Mended Hearts Open Forum

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  • 1.  Normalcy, Healing Time and Sudden Changes

    Posted 04-21-2022 08:35

    Greetings

    I'm Ricardo and I am new to the group (just joined this month). I had my first open heart surgery on March 18 after having an Aortic Dissection. I had no clue it was that serious but I was in pain unlike I usually had in my chest. However everyone kept telling me "you're lucky to be alive" "most don't make it" "you could/should have died" this is all new to me and to be honest makes me slightly nervous to have my second open heart surgery. But I know some things depend on the person, or most things depend on the person. However I have a few questions:

    • How long did it take for you to gain some sense of normalcy
    • I had my surgery on 3/18 but I still feel pain in my chest and can't sleep comfortably. Is that normal (it's been a month and I still have pain).
    • I still cannot walk very far and I have to rest after walking up flights of stairs.  Is that normal?
    • My left eye goes dark sometimes (it's happened four times since my surgery. I googled and it said there's many times there's a lack of oxygen reaching the eye.
      • Could this be an effect of surgery
    • My skin is peeling on my hands. Large portions (my finger print and close to the base of my finger). The hair on my knuckles has come up also
      • The back of my hand is scaling
    • I am tired A LOT! Like I feel exhausted.
    • My incision on my shoulder is still a little numb (when does feeling usually come back after surgery)

    So I have to have another surgery to repair the aorta on the lower part of my aorta/heart. I'm just now seeing my chest scar heal. Has anyone had two open heart surgeries due to aortic dissection? And how far a part were your surgeries?

    • What are the biggest permanent changes that I should expect
    • Advice you wish someone had told you that you believe will be helpful before, and after the surgeries


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      Ricardo McCrary
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    • 2.  RE: Normalcy, Healing Time and Sudden Changes

      Posted 04-22-2022 13:09

      Hi Ricardo,
      Welcome to the Mended Hearts Community.♥️ You've been through a very major event… and with no emotional preparation! Hoping someone will answer the questions you have, soon.

      I had open heart surgery to replace my aortic valve in 2011. Since then I've developed a thoracic ascending aortic aneurysm… currently in the watchful waiting period to replace the bio-prosthetic valve (they wear out). Aneurysm not large enough for surgery / stable at 4.1 cm. 
      Recovery from open heart surgery is different for everyone depending on the circumstances, but it's not to be rushed. Give yourself time. At least 12 weeks!  Stay very hydrated and use the pain meds… dehydration and pain can affect your heart and vascular system. ( blood pressure, etc.) Also, don't be shy in calling your health care specialists for advice. 

      You are in my prayers for healing and comfort. 

      Debi :)



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      Debi Ries
      San Diego, Ca
      AVR / Open Surgery 2011/ TAAA 4.2 cm / Afib
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    • 3.  RE: Normalcy, Healing Time and Sudden Changes

      Posted 04-22-2022 15:35

      Thank you Debi. I often need to be told to slow down and take my time. When I don't listen I face the consequences of my body in agonizing pain. This chest area is quite difficult. I didn't realize how much my body movements are utilizing my chest area. I need to take my time and take things slowly. Thank you again. 



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      Ricardo McCrary
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    • 4.  RE: Normalcy, Healing Time and Sudden Changes

      Posted 04-22-2022 16:01
      I understand … me too! Blessings on you, Ricardo. The Lord will direct you through this adjustment, and prepare you for the next step. Let loved ones help, if possible
      I went back to work a little too soon. Had a great boss, who told me to slow down and work part time for a little while. ( Executive Assistant in the President’s Office of a private University).

      Debi 🙏🏼




    • 5.  RE: Normalcy, Healing Time and Sudden Changes

      Posted 04-22-2022 14:20
      Dear Ricardo and Shobodan

      One time in the future and an be comforted that you did the right things getting help when you did. Your recovery will take time. Thank you for sharing with us. Yes you are still on a very intense journey right now. My case was different , in that i knew in advance that I would need surgery.
      The complications took my family for a Loop ( I was in a medically induced coma for 10 days… soI missed the worse of the worries ). Please be patient: recovery to the new you will take time. ( I repeat myself). I am 9 years post op etc and i still worry occasionally. Please take advantage of all therapy offered, Rehab, anti anxiety and anti depression medications, prayers and friends offering help. Let your family and friends help, you are not imposing on them when you ask for help. It is a gift you give them. Anyway you will get better and be able to help other. 😄
      Marilyn B. Rosenhouse
      Mobile: (214)850-0655




    • 6.  RE: Normalcy, Healing Time and Sudden Changes

      Posted 04-23-2022 11:05
      Hi Ricardo,
      I'm going to attempt to answer as many of your questions as I can, Miracle Man, because that is exactly what you are.  I never had an aortic dissection so I can't speak to that aspect, but I did have a heart attack, emergency quintuple coronary artery bypass surgery, ventilator pneumonia and a c diff superbug infection that put me in a medically induced coma for two weeks with a 50/50 chance of survival, and another 3 weeks in inpatient rehab learning to walk and feed myself again.  So I went through the wringer, although it seems like a vacation compared to what you experienced. Anyway, here we go:
       
      • How long did it take for you to gain some sense of normalcy
      Response:  I was in the hospital and rehab for a total of 6 weeks, so I began to feel normal at 6 weeks.  They sent me home with a walker but I hated it the first time I walked around the block with it, so I threw it away.  Within 2 weeks after that, I was walking 1-2 miles a day unassisted and working out at an outpatient rehab facility 3x a week. I had a sense if normalcy, but I couldn't even imagine going back to for for another month after that.
      • I had my surgery on 3/18 but I still feel pain in my chest and can't sleep comfortably. Is that normal (it's been a month and I still have pain).
      Response: What you're feeling is totally normal.  Since I wasn't awakened from my medically induced coma until 2 weeks after my open heart surgery, I missed out on most of the pain that others described but I did have pain along the sternum whenever I coughed or sneezed.  I'd say it took around 2 months post surgery for that to go away.  I also found it difficult and painful to sleep on my side for the first 6 weeks or so after surgery.  How to get up out of bed and lie down without pain was something they taught me in rehab.  I strongly recommend you enter into an outpatient rehab program.  Finally, I felt something like muscle swelling around the area of my left pec, which I attributed to tissue healing from the artery that they took from that area of my chest to use as a graft for my left anterior descending coronary artery (the "widowmaker").  That took about 6 months to go away. 
      • I still cannot walk very far and I have to rest after walking up flights of stairs.  Is that normal?
      Response:  Totally normal.  The good news is you can recover your cardiovascular fitness incredibly quickly just by walking every day, increasing tour distance a little at a time.  Like I said, I went from slowly walking around the block my first day home to walking 2 miles a day within 2 weeks of coming home.
      • My left eye goes dark sometimes (it's happened four times since my surgery. I googled and it said there's many times there's a lack of oxygen reaching the eye.
        • Could this be an effect of surgery 
      Response:  I don't know but I wouldn't be surprised.  When I first entered inpatient rehab, I was shocked to learn that I couldn't lift my right arm much higher than my waist.  The rehab cardiologist attributed it to possible lack if sufficient oxygen to the area of the brain controlling the muscles of that arm.  The good news is that with continued weight work with the physical therapists, I gradually regained complete range if morion and increasing strength in that arm to where, when I got home and was medically cleared to do my old gym workouts, I was once again doing barbell push presses, dips and eventually wall assisted handstand pushups and pullups with both arms equally (I was a high school gymnast, wrestled in college and am a lifelong weightlifter, so I had a lot of muscle memory to help me).  The point is that I developed new wiring in my brain to make up for the temporary lack of oxygen and I believe you will too.
      • My skin is peeling on my hands. Large portions (my finger print and close to the base of my finger). The hair on my knuckles has come up also
        • The back of my hand is scaling
      Response:  Not sure what that is about but my guess is it's temporary.  For about 8 weeks post surgery, I would wake up in the morning and my fingers would quiver, sort of like I had Parkinson's.  It would go away as the morning progressed, only to return the next morning.  When I told my doc about it, he said it was nothing and would soon go away completely.  He was right.
      • I am tired A LOT! Like I feel exhausted.
      Response:  Keep walking for fitness and treat yourself to naps as often as you need them.  Your body went through a SHOCK. It's going to take a while to recover.  Even though I went back to work and was lifting weights and even running 3 months after surgery, I wasn't at full strength until around a year post surgery.  Give yourself time and be patient.  I'm living on borrowed time, and as for you, you must have been the recipient of divine intervention by God himself-don't know how otherwise to explain the miracle of your survival
      • My incision on my shoulder is still a little numb (when does feeling usually come back after surgery)
      Response:  No experience with this but my guess is it may be lack of oxygen related.  Talk to your doctor.  And physical rehab might help. 
      • What are the biggest permanent changes that I should expect
      • Response: That scar down the middle of your chest.  I explain it as either my survival of a bear attack or a shark attack or a knife fight.  Hey, you may as well have fun.
      •  
      • Advice you wish someone had told you that you believe will be helpful before, and after the surgeries
      Response:  Focus on right now, not the future.  Smell the roses. As John Mayer sings:
       
      " Have no fear for giving in
      Have no fear for giving over
      You better know that in the end
      It's better to say too much
      Than never to say what you need to say again
      Even if your hands are shaking
      And your faith is broken
      Even as the eyes are closing
      Do it with a heart wide open, a wide heart
      Say what you need to say
      Say what you need to say
      Say what you need to say…"

      Heal well brother,

      Ira


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      Ira Reid
      Hoboken NJ
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    • 7.  RE: Normalcy, Healing Time and Sudden Changes

      Posted 27 days ago
      Ira, thank you so much this was beyond helpful and was very comforting/reassuring.

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      Ricardo McCrary
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