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Tips for dealing with post-OHS pain?

  • 1.  Tips for dealing with post-OHS pain?

    Posted 04-04-2019 12:53
    I'm headed for surgery to fix my bicuspid aortic valve and aortic aneurysm on April 29. A few former patients have told me that the first few days to a week after the surgery are quite painful. Does anyone have tips for getting through this period? Thanks so much.

    Peter Eglinton
    Portland ME

  • 2.  RE: Tips for dealing with post-OHS pain?

    Posted 04-04-2019 17:34
    I wish I had some tips but I don't really think there are any. Was was told before surgery that the fist 48 hours were just going to plain suck. But after that, things would get better. She was right. Get through those first 48 hours and you will have done the hard part.

    Good luck Peter and keep the faith.


    Craig Ellis
    Bremerton WA

  • 3.  RE: Tips for dealing with post-OHS pain?

    Posted 04-04-2019 21:32
    Hello Peter,
    As you may have determined by now the pain is just something that has to be dealt with. Do not be afraid to ask for main meds if you need them. Do not try to tough it out. Allow your body the rest it needs so you can get off the meds sooner and heal easier. Don't make yourself worse trying to be strong. 
    Also just get up and walk as soon as they tell you to. The sooner you walk and the sooner you get moving the sooner the pain lessens.
    They had me up and moving right after surgery and I just did whatever I was told and I was lucky enough to be off the major meds in just a couple of days. 

    Good Luck and let us know how things turn out.
    Richard Short 

  • 4.  RE: Tips for dealing with post-OHS pain?

    Posted 04-05-2019 08:58
    Hi Craig:
         The best advice I can give you to get through the pain is to hold onto a good, firm pillow. As crazy as that sounds, it works wonders. Holding some pressure against the incision, especially when you have to cough, really helps.  A lot of hospitals these days hands out pillows or teddy bears specifically for that reason.
         Yes, it's painful but nothing that you can't handle. They'll have you up and moving shortly after surgery. Even you will be amazed.
         Hey, look at the bright side, at least you're not delivering a baby!
         Good luck to you. Have a speedy recovery and keep us posted. You have all of us rooting you on.

    annette smith
    saxonburg PA

  • 5.  RE: Tips for dealing with post-OHS pain?

    Posted 04-06-2019 10:09
    A pillow helps more then anything. Even weeks later when you cough or sneeze, you'll still need it occasionally. I'm 8 months out from second valve replacement and I still feel pain at times. My surgeon explained to me that some patients it can take upwards of a year for the sternum to completely heal.

    Charles Capien
    Prior Lake MN

  • 6.  RE: Tips for dealing with post-OHS pain?

    Posted 04-07-2019 11:02
    As already stated use a pillow, usually given by the hospital, or you can fold a towel several times.  You will not hurt your chest by doing this and it does help with the discomfort for those first few weeks.  The coughing is actually good for you as it clears your lungs.  Looking back following my surgery it was not truly pain but a lot of soreness and tenderness.  To me, if I hit my finger with a hammer that is true pain and I never had that kind.  Be sure to do Cardiac Rehab.  That will help you regain your strength and get back to your normal life.  Best wishes for a good and quick recovery.

    Tommy Broughton
    Chapter 28

  • 7.  RE: Tips for dealing with post-OHS pain?

    Posted 04-07-2019 11:53
    Hi Peter!

    I had this exact surgery 6 years ago. One thing I wish I had known was that your back will hurt way more than your chest! The two things that really helped me with the pain (other than the painkillers which I had to stop because of an allergic reaction) was a heating pad for my back and a pillow for whenever I coughed. I kept it close by and held it tight when needing to cough. Also, a little seatbelt pad for the car will do wonders.

    For the hospital stay, I would recommend a heating pad or icy hot patch, a pillow from home and your coughing pillow (which you will normally get at the hospital).

    I hope this helps and good luck!

    Ophelie Horsley
    Martinez CA
    (925) 303-7648

  • 8.  RE: Tips for dealing with post-OHS pain?

    Posted 04-08-2019 09:50
    Hi Peter,
    Just one more voice about OHS pain.  I agree with the others.  The pillow really helps.  I carried mine everywhere for a few weeks, in case of coughing or sneezing.  I had CBGX3.  I was really amazed that the pain was not as bad as I had expected.  I had a broken leg as a kid and it was much more painful than this. I would describe the feeling as uncomfortable or strange.  Sometimes I felt like a wire was scratching me from the inside.  As others have said, getting up and moving around really helps.  When I got home I could only manage to walk for 4 minutes at a time, but I decided to carry a timer with me and add 1 minute a day until I got to 20 minutes, 3 times a day.  That worked well for me.  They will have you up and moving soon after your surgery.  Cardiac Rehab is so important.  As soon as your doctor says it is ok, you will find this very helpful,  and you will meet so many other people who have similar experiences.  It is a great support group.  I wish you well on your recovery.
    Barbara Grosch
    Palo Cedro, CA

    Barbara Grosch
    Palo Cedro CA
    (530) 549-4872

  • 9.  RE: Tips for dealing with post-OHS pain?

    Posted 06-09-2019 12:29
    Hi Peter
    I see you’ve had some helpful responses from other MH members, I’ll add a few ‘tips’ for your consideration.
    From my experience the first 24 hours was really unpleasant, and things start getting better steadily from there.
    The sternum precautions in recovery make some ordinary movements and tasks challenging, and you’ll be sore early on. Comfortable cotton shirts that button down the front make dressing that much easier, rather than a pullover. You’ll also need help sitting back up after lying down, I found a pillow wedge helpful both by making it easier to sit up without using arms, and it was more comfortable than lying straight down on my back - comfortable side sleeping took several months for me.
    They’ll most likely tell you to continue with the breathing exercises to keep lungs clear and recommend getting up for short walks right away. Best to just do it, you won’t regret it. Some folks suggested a chair for the shower at least at first, you may not need it though.
    They will probably give you a pillow to hug for when you cough sneeze or sit up/lay down, those are good to have with you for a while and to place between your healing chest and a passenger seatbelt.
    Cardiac rehab as soon as your doctor gives the ok, this is very helpful in recovery.
    You’re going to sleep A LOT after being released - I set some personal records that first week.
    Mostly though you should know the recovery will likely be way better than you’re expecting, of course everyone is different, but for me I started feeling pretty good the first week home with sleep and getting an appetite back.
    Catch up on some reading, watch some tv, have visitors stop by, allow yourself to be selfish for a few weeks and accept the help your loved ones offer.