Strong emotions at post operative visit

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AmyBL

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Hi folks, yesterday I met with the surgeon who repaired my aortic aneurysm and installed (not correct word but I think you know what I mean) a mechanical valve. The appointment went generally well but I was surprised by the intensity of my emotions. It was a short appointment, and pleasant, but I did not want it to end? After I left, I found myself tearful and I am again now, just thinking about it.

It is like, "That's it? I am done? Can I come see you again and shoot the ****?" In a way, I would like to do something to express my intense gratitude that I am alive, but I think for these folks, my surgery was just another day at the office. Did any of you do something to acknowledge your surgeon, and the medical staff? It seems that anything I could do would miss the mark -- Thank you for saving my life, Here is is a card. Ultimately, I can't do anything for these people that compares to what they did for me. That discrepancy seems profound and paralyzing right now.

Any suggestions are welcome. I would also appreciate hearing if any of you had similar feelings.

Thanks,

Amy
 

epstns

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Amy, I, too, experienced really strong emotional feelings at various points along my recovery path. I never did check back with my surgeon or the hospital team. They do, as you put it, see each of our surgeries as just another day at the office.

The one thing I did follow up on was to visit the cardiac rehab center I used after surgery. I wanted to stop by there about a year after completing their course to show my friends on staff that I had continued to take care of the body they helped me to put back together. I also was able to greet some of their current rehab patients and show them by example what the rehab experience could do for me. We had fun, and I felt that I had contributed just a bit to someone else's recovery.

Sometimes I think that our surgeons don't have a chance to get to know us. They only see us a couple of times and for a short duration of days. I saw my rehab team 3 days a week for 12 weeks. We built friendships, shared jokes, and generally became friends. I wanted to celebrate that.
 

Zoltania

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Hi Amy,

I sent cards to my surgeon and his office staff, to the ICU nursing staff who cared for me immediately post-op, and to the nursing staff in the hospital unit where I stayed for the rest of my time there, thanking them for taking such good care of me. I don't think sending a card misses the mark at all. It's true that they were all "just" doing their jobs, but they did their jobs well and deserved to be acknowledged, and I'm sure they appreciated getting such an acknowledgement. I think that the simple fact of the recognition is what matters, not the scope of how you provide the recognition.
 

pellicle

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Hi

AmyBL;n863058 said:
Hi folks, yesterday I met with the surgeon who repaired my aortic aneurysm and installed (not correct word but I think you know what I mean) a mechanical valve.
actually I think that's the right word ...

The appointment went generally well but I was surprised by the intensity of my emotions. It was a short appointment, and pleasant, but I did not want it to end? After I left, I found myself tearful and I am again now, just thinking about it.

It is like, "That's it? I am done? Can I come see you again and shoot the ****?" In a way, I would like to do something to express my intense gratitude that I am alive,
well I understand that feeling. I felt it when I was a kid and when I was a young man. I understand that the surgeons deal with so many people, and that list grows every day. They are just like a human ribosome rolling along the DNA of humanity and fixing what's wrong and moving along.

Be pleased that humanity has such diversity that we get men and women like that.

I can't do anything for these people that compares to what they did for me. That discrepancy seems profound and paralyzing right now.
which is why in our society we hold these people in high regard and why we respect them. Respect has been twisted into "fear" (think some southern USA accent saying "I'm gunna teach you some respect boy" ...), fear is not respect, respect is part of what you are feeling now.

Ultimately this cuts back to the question of why some people strive for greatness ... they have felt that respect and want it ... need it ... for themselves. In my life I do things which help others (in my job, in my spare time). I never feel anything much except an abstract encouragement when I do things to help others. Its just what I do. Personally I think that's a good thing because for me to feel something strong from that would perhaps tempt me into arrogance and avarice. Nothing I want in my life that's for sure.

I do help here because I want to see others do well , not for any other reason.

We all live our lives, sometimes we "save lives" other times we just fix software or repair the cars that surgeons drive. The real thing though is to try to be happy no matter what the challenges are. Sometimes that's hard to do and sometimes it is knocked off your window sill for decades. Still that's the goal.


Heart Surgery gives us the chance to see and learn so many things ... Something to ponder :)
 

ejc61

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I feel indebted to my surgeon and felt the same. Sort of a funny exchange with him came about 5 years later when I developed endocarditis which accidentally caused me to have an emergency arterial thombectomy in my leg. He comes walking in my hospital room and says to me, "Hello, I don't know if you remember me but I did your MV repair 5 years ago." I kind of chuckled and said, "yes doctor, you had me on a heart pump machine, I'm not forgetting that. Glad to see you are looking at my endocarditis."
 

AZ Don

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Interesting topic. In my view, for the surgeon and hospital team it is absolutely another day at the office. Although my insurance paid the bills, I saw them, and the Dr. and hospital were well compensated. I did take the time to go on Healthgrades and give my surgeon a good review. For the PET scan technician that spotted and documented my dilated aorta on a test for something entirely different, I wrote a thank you note. I guess I looked at that differently because I felt that he went outside the normal scope of his job, at least my expectations of it, and likely saved my life in the process.
 

tsanjose

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let me first by stating i'm a 43 year old male. i was the last person to expect to be hit with all kinds of emotions i felt after my mitral valve repair in nov 2015. i remember getting home and then thinking how on earth did this happen, could this be real, you name it i felt it.

i also remember sitting in a parking lot while my wife ran in to grab something at a store. i watched people walking bay and said to myself "life goes on... i don't know their story and they don't know mine". i got a lot of calls, txts, cards and flowers from friends and family and decided to post a personal thank you to all of them via facebook. i cried like a baby in the car as i wrote it (people walking by and looking at me and all!). never in a million years did i think i'd be so emotional but i was. i got hundreds of likes and replies and i cried everytime i was messaged (true story). my point is, from the condition to the surgery to the on going recovery, embrace the emotions and use it to think deeper as a person. i became a lot more aware of what really matters in life and thats friends, family and everyone who crosses your path. there are billions of people in the world and these people make up your life experiences.

sorry i got totally sidetracked there, lol. as far as post op thank you's and what not i sent cards and a couple boxes of chocolates for xmas and thanked them all for saving my life.
 

honeybunny

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I sent a couple of thank you gifts (Willow Tree figurines) to nurses, including the ones taking care of me in cardiac rehab. Yes, they did their jobs but I was very appreciative of a few things they took care of ASAP that made my journey easier. I thought about sending my surgeon a Starbucks gift card, as silly as that sounds, just to acknowledge my appreciation. Another thing I thought of doing (and still may) is sending some type of food/cookie basket to his office. Who would turn down food? Though in my surgeon's case a fruit basket would be better. In short, if you feel the need for a material thank you, go for it. I suspect that most patients consider their medical staff well paid and not in need of special thanks, which would make yours all the more meaningful.
 

almost_hectic

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Something about the experience of the surgery unlocked all sorts of emotions in me. I was never a very emotional person prior to surgery but I sure am now. It's like a switch has been flipped. I get choked up over all sorts of stuff now. Why is that or what causes it?

I missed out on seeing my surgeon for the post-op follow up. He was called out of town for something and I wound up seeing one of the PAs on his team. I was pretty disappointed about not having the chance to speak to my own surgeon one last time and shake his hand. I had to make a trip to his office shortly after to pick up some insurance forms. So I had a local baker make me up a bunch of gourmet mini cupcakes. I brought a tray full of them to the surgeons office to drop off with a hand written thank you card that let them know how grateful I was to everyone on the staff, all of whom really impressed me with their professionalism and outstanding compassion throughout the experience. I did the same for the nursing staff in the surgical progressive care unit, brought them another try of the same cupcakes with another hand written card to show my gratitude.

About four months after my surgery I participated in the American Heart Association Heart Walk and found the my surgeon had registered on the website, so I joined as a team member with my donations raised being credited to his team. I totaled about a thousand bucks in donations raised. I attended the walk and hoped I might run into my surgeon but didn't. That wasn't as important as showing my support I guess. For someone who does these surgeries almost every day I realized that as committed as he was to my care and successful outcome, I was after all just another patient. I didn't know if he would eve recognize me. I'd like to think he would but that so many weeks had passed and my face had been replaced by so many other patients in that time.

I also went on healthgrades and left him my glowing endorsement.
 

AmyBL

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epstns, pellicle, zoltania, AZdon, ejc61, almost_hectic, tsanjose, honeybunney, thank you for your responses. Each of you said something that helped me sort out my emotional wave; at least as sorted out as it is now.

This is what I concluded about my situation: One day after being discharged, I flew to my childhood home because my Dad went into Hospice. About two weeks later, he died. I came home and a dear friend that I worked with for over 10 years died. Although the following financial things can't compare in importance, they added to the sense of chaos -- our furnace broke (6000.00 repair) brakes went out on the car, (1000.00), our stove stopped working. Sadly, an old friend of my husband killed himself, and my son is being bullied at school. The best thing I can do is accept my feelings and emotions as they arise, but not spend a great deal of time trying to understand them. They are what they are.

Today, my husband looked at me, and said apologetically, "What date is our wedding anniversary?" We both realized is was today. Neither of us had the foggiest idea that this day was coming.

So each of you said things that were validating and important. Thank you. If over the next few weeks, I start rambling incoherently, just say to me, "Amy, this too shall pass. Have you remembered to take your medicine? Just do the next thing in front of you." Basic, simple advise can be very helpful (for me) when life becomes difficult. I really appreciate the opportunity to learn with each of you.

Amy
 

pellicle

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AmyBL;n863464 said:
... Basic, simple advise can be very helpful (for me) when life becomes difficult. I really appreciate the opportunity to learn with each of you.
Amy, appropriate wording as we all are learning ... I say go book dinner at a nice restaurant and just go sit and talk about your wedding (or other happy times).

even if its only for an hour

Our wedding was in Feb ... lots of good memories there




Best Wishes
 

spartangator

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Happy anniversary. We can all benefit, I think, from your summary: 'The best thing I can do is accept my feelings and emotions as they arise, but not spend a great deal of time trying to understand them. They are what they are.' Lots of good thoughts your way amidst all this.
 

harrietW

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AmyBL
You are so right how do we acknowledge such a gift?
As l was lying in the hospital bed one morning my Surgeon came in on rounds. As he held my wrist to take my pulse and proceeded to listen to my heart the tears began to roll down my cheeks. l said thank you l really wanna thank you. He said for what and l smiled and said for saving my life. He responded with auh that's nothing .. you dont need to thank me thats my job thats what l do l said that's a pretty big deal saving people's lives. How do we thank them ?
 

pellicle

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harrietW;n863468 said:
.... He responded with auh that's nothing .. you dont need to thank me thats my job thats what l do l said that's a pretty big deal saving people's lives. How do we thank them ?
live well, help others, do small good things for others when the opportunity presents itself.

be truthful and honest.

can you imagine how good the place would be if everyone who "owed a debt" to a surgeon or someone else in society did that?

Shalom
 

epstns

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Happy anniversary, Amy! I'll second the notion of planning a dinner with your husband, but if that can't work right now, at least share a big warm hug, and just ask each other "Do you remember. . .?" It may bring forth a lot of emotions, but you'll love every minute of it.

Pellicle - Even though your picture was taken on a snowy February day, it just beams out warmth! I won't say much more, as you and I would probably both be in tears if I did. . .

I'll definitely second the motion that we should do good things for people, even if they have no reason to expect it from us. For many years we had a "little old lady" next-door neighbor. We live in Chicago, where it often snows (a lot). For years, whenever I shoveled the snow on our walks, I also cleared our neighbor's walks. Somebody once asked me why I did that. My answer was "Somebody else does this for my mother, and since I can't be there for her, I do it for another person who needs the help." I don't know (or care) what anyone else thought about this. It just made me feel good.

As the years go by, it seems that there are fewer and fewer opportunities to do these "random acts of kindness," but the world would really be a nicer place if more folks tried.
 

harrietW

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I try and live my life by giving back and doing for others long before surgery. . It is the only way l know how to live. I owe a great debt to many and live my life in gratitude.
 

pellicle

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epstns;n863487 said:
Pellicle - Even though your picture was taken on a snowy February day, it just beams out warmth! I won't say much more
Anita was very pleased that it was well below -20 ... nothing stuck to her train ... and come on ... that ball and chain deserves a mention ;-)
 

AmyBL

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Love the ball and chain. You both look very happy, contradicting the ball and chain. Thank you, everyone.
 

epstns

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pellicle;n863511 said:
Anita was very pleased that it was well below -20 ... nothing stuck to her train ... and come on ... that ball and chain deserves a mention ;-)
Somehow, I'd bet that if you could have, you would have shackled your leg to hers, so tight was your bond.
 
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