When to call the doc

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Apr 19, 2017
Lafayette, LA
almost two weeks out - a few questions.
I have a sharp pain every now and then under left breast ? Cardio doc says scar tissue ?????
My ribs really hurt (or lungs) - when does this get better ?
And is Cardio rehab a must do ? or can one do this at home ?
I am ready to go back to work (desk job) - did anyone else go back so soon ? any regrets ?


VR.org Supporter
VR.org Supporter
Dec 14, 2016
The Great White North

I am 80 days out.

I never had much sharp pain...lots of aching and discomfort...I got the ribs/lungs thing...just try to realize you were opened up and it takes a while to settle.

I think the rehab is a must, I get lots from it, beyond the actual exercise, it's nice to be with a group going through the same things (even if they are 40 years older than me) and to have professionals to ask questions of.

My advice at your stage, if you think you can do something, take one step back. Better safe than sorry.

At 2 weeks, you can's drive yet, I'd take it easy.

As for work, I work from home and I did get back to some work 1 week out. My mind was extremely foggy and affected to some level even 6-7 weeks out. And I was able to stop and have a nap whenever I wanted. I would say if you absolutely want to do some work, keep the expectations non existent and listen to your mind/body...the tendency can be to push too hard for some, which can have some really negative impacts...be smart



Well-known member
Mar 3, 2015
I would definitely recommend cardiac rehab. It is very reassuring to exercise under the direction of nurses and physical therapists. You are constantly monitored but (in my case) they let me test myself and get back to running - and really challenge myself. I was 42, and was with a mix of ages at rehab. They also answer any questions you have and coordinate with your doctor.

I went back back to work (desk job) at 8 weeks, but worked from home until 12 weeks out. That was very helpful. First, it was still difficult to dress myself in a suit or dress! Second, by the time I lugged my heavy briefcase and drove 30 minutes to work, I would have been exhausted! Working also takes a tremendous amount of mental energy. I would take it slowly.


Premium User
VR.org Supporter
Dec 26, 2002
Chicago area
Hi, Tappy,

A question - Is the rib/lung pain there at all or random times, or is it worse when you take a breath in or breathe deeply? If it hurts when you breathe in deeply, you may have some fluid build-up in the lungs. This can be from just the irritation of the lungs being deflated and manipulated during surgery. It may resolve by itself within another couple of weeks. If it does not get better, ask your doc. Mine told me to take ibuprofen to help reduce the inflammation, which reduced the fluid production and pain.

As for rehab, my own opinion is that it is highly valuable. Prior to surgery (at age 63) I was a 5 days a week gym rat. I jogged, lifted weights, exercised. . . did all the things guys 10 or 20 years younger were doing, just slower. After surgery (and after resolution of some complications) I did 12 weeks of cardio rehab. The rehab was about an hour a day, 3 days a week. I did the same routine at my own fitness club the other 2 days a week. Within those 12 weeks I went from a weakling couch potato back to about 80% of the conditioning I had a couple of years before surgery. It really helped push me to get healthy again, and it gave me great confidence when they pushed me and I found that my heart wouldn't fail if I worked it hard. You do only get out of it what you put into it, but the value is there for the taking.

Work? I also work a desk job. I thought I was ready to go back to work at about 4 weeks, because I was bored. I started with some remote office work, and it is a good thing I did it that way. For the first week or so, I could only concentrate for a couple of hours, then had to let my mind go for a while. I would not have wanted anyone to see me that way. After week 5, once I was released to drive again, I went back to work part-time. For weeks 6 and 7, I worked about 4 hours a day. Week 8, I went up to 6 hours a day. After week 8, I was back to my "normal" 10 hour work days with trips to the gym after work. There were still days when I couldn't push hard all day, so listen to your body. Don't over-do it. If you over-do things, it will take a longer time to recover than it used to. After all, you are still healing.

And healing. . . well, we all heal at different rates. I would say that I healed to about 80% pretty quickly, maybe within the first 4 or 5 months. It wasn't until about a full year after surgery that I finally realized that I was back to 100% (and better). Take your time. You will get there.


Me and Granbon
VR.org Supporter
Sep 29, 2004
Far side of the moon
I agree with epstns's advice about the sharp pain and disagree with your cardiologist blaming it on scar tissue. Fluid retention in the lungs and around the heart following surgery is not uncommon. I would suggest you weigh yourself every day, same time of the day, to check for fluid weight gain. Anything over three pounds in a day would warrant a call. I'd call the surgeon if it occurs before you go back for your 6 week check. I didn't have cardiac rehab, insurance didn't cover it, but I wish I had. Best wishes going forward.

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