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New Member - My OHS Story

  • 1.  New Member - My OHS Story

    Posted 05-10-2022 08:35
    My name is Merceda and on April 5, 2022 my life changed. I had an aortic dissection repaired of
    my ascending aorta and part of my aortic arch. I also had a mechanical aortic valve placed.
    Prior to my surgery, I was very active. I worked out 3-4 times/week. I'm a former athlete. So, I
    never dreamed of having health problems, as I tried to care for myself. I certainly didn't consider
    ever having a heart problem. However, these issues target young, old, healthy, etc. In August of
    2020, after having chest pain, I was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm on CT scan. This was
    an incidental finding to the pulmonary embolisms/blood clots, for which was the cause of my
    chest pain. I was placed on a blood thinner at the time and told that the aneurysm would need to
    be monitored. I had another CT scan 6 months later, which noted a stable aneurysm. Again
    June of 2021, another CT scan was stable. It was decided for me to have yearly scans. So, my
    next scan was scheduled for May of 2022. On March 19, 2022, I was outside with my children
    and began having chest pain. I was light-headed, had a strange feeling in my throat, and was
    dizzy. It improved within about 30 minutes, but the "throat feeling" remained for the next few
    days. A CT scan, 1 week later, revealed an aortic dissection. Thankfully, I was able to have
    surgery scheduled for 1 week later, and I'm still here.

    Going into the week of surgery was mentally difficult. I was scared and nervous. I am a spiritual
    person and stayed vigilant with praying. I also had a strong support system, which was critical to
    my staying sane as the day approached. I remember vividly coming out of surgery and knowing
    the breathing tube was still in. I felt like I was gagging and almost choking as I realized it was
    there. This was approximately a 10–15-minute period, leading up to the tube being removed.
    The first 24 hours were spent in the ICU. The chest tubes were the most uncomfortable for me.
    However, the next few days were the hardest as they tried to navigate the best pain
    management for me. Once the chest tubes were out, I finally started to feel better. Additionally, I
    went into atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm abnormality, for a few days after surgery. They
    attempted to correct it with a shock shortly after surgery and with medication. However, it wasn't
    until several days later, when they planned to do another shock, that I had self-corrected. I have
    been on a monitor since being discharged and will have to follow up to ensure a pacemaker
    isn't needed.

    The journey to recovery has been going well. I was tired when I got home. I was walking up to ½
    mile in the first week. I was doing light exercises, started prior to discharge. The soreness in my
    chest was most difficult. I was only taking Tylenol after approximately 2-3 days of being home. I
    was very careful about standing, lying down, getting up, etc. I used my heart pillow constantly. I
    ensured I was drinking lots of fluids. I also started on several vitamins. I did have to adjust to
    dietary changes as I was now on coumadin due to the mechanical valve.

    At now 5 weeks post-surgery, I am up to 2 miles/day of walking. I can take care of my basic
    needs, without the assistance of my wife. I am hoping to be cleared this week to drive, lift more
    than 10 pounds, stop sitting in the backseat, etc. I continue to monitor my breathing and listen to
    my body when it's tired. I get frustrated from hearing my heart ticking all the time, likely due to
    the valve. Emotionally, it continues to be a journey. I haven't been happy or sad, but I am
    grateful. I am thankful for this forum because many posts have been helpful. I am also planning
    to get a therapist, as I see the benefit of needing another outlet to ensure I stay emotionally fit.

    If you have yet to go through the procedure, but it is the plan for you, know that you will get
    through it.


    Smyrna GA

  • 2.  RE: New Member - My OHS Story

    Posted 06-08-2022 06:23
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    carlo pinini
    Miami FL

  • 3.  RE: New Member - My OHS Story

    Posted 06-09-2022 09:22
    Dear Merceda
    It is always a shock when a healthy person has to have heart surgery ( actually any surgery, but heart is the most emotional one). Your being in good health to start with is a big boost to your successful recovery. Since All your factors are in place; i encourage you ( if it’s recommended ) to go to outpatient cardiopulmonary therapy.
    Given your history of being an athlete, much will seem too easy for you but they will direct you into safe protocols for you.
    The biggest adjustment is nutrition with the coumadin regimen. Fortunately, for me, i only had to be on it for about 6 months, short term , It was easier for me to avoid the green foods ( which seems logically wrong… since in general life, leafy greens are encouraged). For you : nutrition planning is the best option…. especially since fiber from Green Leafy vegetables is such a part of our culture.
    You are fortunate and blessed to have good support system. Please “take advantage of it.” You are not imposing on your friends and family. You are giving them a “gift “ by asking for their help. When you are more recovered, you will be well enough to help others. This the “reason “ you are on this journey…your goal : . eventually making a better world for those around you.
    ( And in my case , 9 years post op, i have the pleasure to enjoy 3 more grandchildren.)

    Marilyn B. Rosenhouse
    Mobile: (214)850-0655

  • 4.  RE: New Member - My OHS Story

    Posted 06-23-2022 21:19
    Thank you so much for this. I really needed to hear it at this time. I started rehab/therapy last week. I definitely see where it will be beneficial. It is difficult having to depend on others, but I know it is critical to my recovery. The dietary changes have been interesting because I eat lots of green leafy vegetables. I am doing better with nutrition planning. My wife got a chef to help us better plan. Hearing you are 9 years post-op is music to my ears. Thank you again for the encouragement.


    Smyrna GA

  • 5.  RE: New Member - My OHS Story

    Posted 06-10-2022 07:40
    Hi Merceda

    Thanks for your story and welcome!

    I had mine in 2019 at 37 years old and my aneurysm was discovered coincidentally also. I couldn't wait to get back to working out as well!
    It is definitely a mental and emotional roller coaster but it sounds like you have the right attitude! 
    If you ever make it to Saint Simons let me know!

    Cole Morrison
    Saint Simons Island, GA

  • 6.  RE: New Member - My OHS Story

    Posted 06-11-2022 06:42

    I really appreciate your sharing, as I am most likely going to undergo either a coronary bypass or (if I'm lucky) a chronic total occlusion PCI procedure in the next couple months.

    The surgical options are scary to me, particularly given the recovery period and my chosen way of life (I live a remote, off-grid life that requires substantial physical activity for daily survival).

    I am not a religious person, and avoiding anxiety is one of the reasons I chose this life 20+ years ago. Therapy may well be in the cards for me.

    I wish you all the best in your recovery!

    Larry Kostmayer

  • 7.  RE: New Member - My OHS Story

    Posted 06-23-2022 21:24

    Thank you for the best wishes and the response. I know it's scary, but it will get better. I started therapy recently. It has really helped. I recommend it, especially if you are open to it. 


    Smyrna GA

  • 8.  RE: New Member - My OHS Story

    Posted 06-23-2022 21:20
    Thanks for this. I keep feeling like I'm the only one. When I was in the hospital, the floor was full of many much older than me. I will definitely be in touch if I'm in Saint Simons. I'm in Smyrna, GA. So, if you make your way to Atlanta, please let me know.

    Merceda Perry

    Smyrna GA

  • 9.  RE: New Member - My OHS Story

    Posted 06-11-2022 12:04
    Hi Merceda,  Thank you for sharing your story.  After having had open heart surgery in August of 2021 I was enrolled into a cardiac rehab program by my cardiologist.  At first I viewed the program as a very basic way to rebuild my strength and endurance.  However, over  several weeks as I became stronger and desired to cycle and water row as my old self, I began to employ the program's nurses and trainers  as a means of educating myself  regarding the  continued setting of new physical and emotional boundaries to heal my being.  It has been a huge gift!  Wish you continued healing on your journey to recovery.  Regards, Kat

    Kat Edwards

  • 10.  RE: New Member - My OHS Story

    Posted 06-23-2022 21:28

    Thanks for the response. Yes, I recently started cardiac rehab. I was resistant initially because I thought it would be too basic for me. However, my wife kept pushing for me to make an appointment. I now look forward to it. I actually saw your message prior to my second session and it helped. Thanks again. Wishing you continued healing as well.


    Smyrna GA

  • 11.  RE: New Member - My OHS Story

    Posted 09-19-2022 17:54
    go to cardiac rehab  it will help

    Charles Crow
    cardiac Rehab nurse


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