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What comes next? How do I handle it? Life 4 weeks after surgery?

  • 1.  What comes next? How do I handle it? Life 4 weeks after surgery?

    Posted 07-29-2019 13:02
    Hi. I am 47 years old and had my Mitral Valve Repair Surgery on July 1,2019. I really didn't comprehend the pain and sadness I would feel following the surgery. I was given a "booklet" on what to expect and did some searching online but was basically told 4-6 weeks and your 80% healed. No one mentioned the amount of pain and discomfort I would be in nor the sleeplessness and overwhelming sadness I am going through. I am looking for someone to talk to about what to expect next and how to deal with what I am going through.

    Symptoms, emotions all of it.   Anyone who can help me to understand what may be coming next and be a bit more prepared for it if possible. I feel lost and alone.


    Cynthia Maxfield
    Centennial CO

  • 2.  RE: What comes next? How do I handle it? Life 4 weeks after surgery?

    Posted 07-29-2019 15:35
    Cynthia, I as well had an open heart surgery on July 1st to replace my mitral valve.  I am a 31 year old mother of an 11 year old and a 2 year old, so life recovering has been nonstop crazy.  I completely understand how you feel.  At 4 weeks post op, I feel like my energy should be coming back, that sleep should be getting easier, and life should be back to a new normal.  The pain is still excruciating at times, but the worst part for me is definitely the emotional side effects that take a toll.  I have never been a crier and I am now.  My emotions have been everywhere.  They don't mention to you before surgery how much your emotions can really mess with you.  I haven't found a way to make myself feel better emotionally. I have anti anxiety meds and am going to start seeing a counselor, but I wish I could just feel well again as a whole on my own. I know exactly how you feel.  I am frustrated and hopeless most days, but I know that if I don't push myself, that the recovery could be longer. I just wish the recovery would hurry itself up a bit more.

    Jenny Brogan
    Hastings NE

  • 3.  RE: What comes next? How do I handle it? Life 4 weeks after surgery?

    Posted 07-29-2019 20:27
    Hello Jenny and Cynthia,
    Ladies I am here to tell you it will get better. You will see the light at the end of the tunnel and you will be able to share your journey with others in the future and offer them a voice of hope and encouragement.
    Please be aware the medications you are taking can add to your depression. Your body chemistry is of whack right now. It can take a couple of months while your body is healing and the blood tests will show minor adjustment will be made to your meds as that takes place.
    I had a 4way bypass in 2015, 8 weeks later I was back at work, "KIND OF". I had depression and fatigue for several weeks. I began feeling better mentally when some things began to need adjustments. I ended up with a pacemaker in 2017. I was able to bounce back from that quicker than the bypass as it gives the body less trauma. 
    I do not know who came up with the 80% healed after 8 weeks but it varies with every person.
    CARDIAC REHAB is the fastest and easiest way to get rid of depression in my opinion. If you have not been scheduled for that INSIST that your doctor gives you an RX referral for Cardiac Rehab.
    Also if you can find a chapter of Mended Hearts near you. Attend a couple of meetings and meet others that have worse issues than yours and see how they are recovering and coping. You will be surprised at how much it will help.
    Online support is good but talking with someone face to face can make a difference. 
    I will not lie to you I had pain and itching for some time after my chest was split open. So will you. It gets better and easier with each passing week. Just remember you are in less pain this week than you were two weeks ago. 
    You will both do well because you both are asking for information. That is a good sign. It shows you want to get better. Take care and remember you are not alone in all of this. Everyone in Mended hearts is there with you.

    Richard Short 
    Chapter 395

  • 4.  RE: What comes next? How do I handle it? Life 4 weeks after surgery?

    Posted 07-29-2019 21:27
    Thank you, Richard. I started cardiac rehab about a week and a half ago and am making some progress there and you are right, I leave there in the morning feeling great. It has helped with my energy level quite a bit. I am just impatient and want instant gratification :) wishful thinking unfortunately. I know each day gets better, but some days are harder than others. I just need to give things time and not rush. Unfortunately being in Nebraska, I think the closest chapter is in Ohio. Atleast that's what I saw, but I could have read that wrong. Again, thank you for making me feel like I am doing things right.

    Jenny Brogan
    Hastings NE

  • 5.  RE: What comes next? How do I handle it? Life 4 weeks after surgery?

    Posted 07-30-2019 14:53
    You are very welcome. While at your rehab visits you might meet with other patients and start your own chapter of mended hearts. They all started with a few folks wanting to talk and educate themselves about their conditions and help themselves heal quicker and easier. 
    You always have this forum as well. There will always be someone listening and caring. 
    As for instant gratification, I suggest a large Ceaser salad with grilled shrimp on top. YUM

  • 6.  RE: What comes next? How do I handle it? Life 4 weeks after surgery?

    Posted 09-04-2019 08:15
    Have you thought about asking if you could join that meeting using Face Time, Skype or Zoom?

    Laurie Barrera
    Boise ID

  • 7.  RE: What comes next? How do I handle it? Life 4 weeks after surgery?

    Posted 09-04-2019 11:15
    Hello Jenny,
    I am glad you are feeling better after the rehab sessions. It always made me feel better. The suggestions Laurie made are good ones as well. With the internet all kinds of communication are available. 
    Another possibility is, talk to some of the other folks in rehab class and see if they might be interested in starting a local chapter. Our chapter started with just 4 people the first meeting and now over 30 attent every monthly meeting on a regular basis.
    All it takes is three or 4 of you to talk about it and it could happen. Mended Hearts started with the first chapter, and now we are nationwide and growing. Having meetings and learning about our bodies also helps in the rehab process and makes moving on easier as well. 
    Knowledge is a powerful tool. Where have I heard that before? ☺☺ 
    This applies to all you folks that do not have a local chapter. 
    Watch out now, I am beginning to sound like a recruiting poster. :o) That is what happens when you retire from the military. 
    I am just happy you are feeling better and I know it will continue to improve. There will be ups and downs along the way, but they get easier to handle as you heal.
    Take care, 
    Richard Short
    Chapter 395

  • 8.  RE: What comes next? How do I handle it? Life 4 weeks after surgery?

    Posted 07-31-2019 17:57
    Hello Jenny and Cynthia:  I am a Mended Hearts Accredited Visitor.  I am also the Membership Chair of Mended Hearts Chapter 81 in Atlanta, GA.   I write a column for out newsletter, Aorta Reporter, in which I review books related to the heart and care of heart patients.  I recently reviewed A New and Better Now: Gratitude and the Art of Thriving After a Heart Event by Michael Hesser.  Hesser is a surviving heart patient so he speaks about recovery from the patient point of view.  I recommend you take time to read his book.  It is available as an ebook. I have had many patients tell me that after reading my review they elected to read Hesser's book.  It is about being grateful and being grateful for the small and big things in our lives each day.  I encourage you to get his book and read it.

    William Hess
    Accredited Mended Hearts Volunteer and Chapter Membership Chair
    Chapter 081
    Altanta, GA
    (404) 452-8464

  • 9.  RE: What comes next? How do I handle it? Life 4 weeks after surgery?

    Posted 07-30-2019 16:43
    My mitro valve surgery was in September 2012 ( almost 7 years ago ).
    There were some complications and it took several months to get back to normal ( actually a better normal... as my shortness of breath was gone . ) It takes time to feel the full benefit. Most of your symptoms physical and psychological are part of the healing process. My advice is yo check with your doctor: probably your medications will be adjusted.

    Marilyn Rosenhouse
    Dallas TX
    (214) 850-0219