You're a fine writer with an ability to convey your personal passions. You should remember that we all have different methods of continuing exercising after open heart surgery. I was a runner but OHS and my age has modified my daily exercise to a 4.5 mile power walk in 1:20:00 each morning. If it's raining or snowing I go to the local Y for an hour on the treadmill and 20 minutes on life-fitness equipment. As long as your cardiologist agrees with your exercise goals, I agree with living life fully.
Throughout my entire life, I've come to understand the profound truth that exercise regimens after open heart surgery are not universally applicable. My formative years, from childhood through high school, were spent in special education, an environment where physical exercise was notably absent. On rare occasions, I might have been fortunate enough to kick a ball, yet mostly, I remained a spectator while others engaged in physical activities. This seasonal reminiscence during the Christmas season often echoes the narrative of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer-much like Rudolph, being different meant exclusion from participating in games.
A significant portion of my life has been dedicated to therapy sessions aimed at processing the cognitive distortions resulting from years of unfiltered thinking about my heart condition. This journey has involved extensive listening, research, and study of the challenges faced by heart patients. Through this exploration, a belief has emerged-that while medical professionals diligently advise on physical capabilities based on cardiac assessments, addressing the mental and emotional struggles individuals endure due to their perceived limitations is not always at the forefront of medical considerations.
The trauma endured by the body and mind after open heart surgery can sometimes lead to a sense of being a "cardiac cripple." While cardiologists may reassure patients regarding the functionality of the heart, the mental and emotional rehabilitation required by the mind and soul often goes unaddressed. Throughout my more than 50 years of cardiac treatment, engaging in in-depth discussions about these psychological aspects has remained elusive in my interactions with cardiologists.
My journey spans over six decades, encompassing three open heart surgeries-each one associated with congestive heart failure experiences. I've undergone the replacement of both pig and bovine valves, currently in my ninth year with my second bovine valve. Additionally, I've undergone the replacement of five pacemakers and faced the distressing ordeal of two failed wires. As someone entirely dependent on a pacemaker, a failing wire translates into a catastrophic event, resulting in profound mental health struggles due to the associated trauma.
The core of my narrative, Vic, extends beyond merely completing a 10k run. It delves into the pervasive mental struggles faced not only by heart patients but by individuals navigating life's challenges. The inability to achieve personal goals often stems from the complex mental landscapes we traverse. While commendable strides have been made in post open-heart surgery research, I've found that the average cardiologist might lack the capacity for candid discussions regarding the mental and emotional toll post-operation.
Mended Hearts stands as a remarkable platform offering invaluable wisdom and support for pre- and post-operative patients navigating these challenges. It's essential to note that while I don't generalize about all cardiologists, my personal experience has highlighted their expertise in imparting technical knowledge yet left me wanting when it comes to addressing the mental struggles, both pre and post-operation.
This is an area where I believe further attention and support are needed for patients navigating the intricate mental and emotional terrains post open-heart surgery.
I noted your discussion of the mental/emotional challenges surrounding the pre and post Open Heart Surgery timeframes for the patient. My OHS was for the replacement of a bicuspid aortic valve in early fall of 2021. My cardiac rehab directly followed my initial recovery and was completed in spring of 2022. Within four months I began to lose weight, incur night sweats as well as a dry cough. It was not until that winter that I was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. My treatment plan included six months of aggressive chemotherapy (AVD + Adcetris). I was nervous about the possible impact on my heart and my cardiologist assured me of my heart's ability to handle the treatment and she remained close with my oncology team during the 6 months. I have recently completed chemotherapy with an all clear from my oncologist. My mental and emotional challenge from OHS was having the confidence to trust my heart during the period of eradication of cancer cells from my body. I was fortunate in that I was able to have frank and open conversations with my cardiologist who became integral to my trusting my body to handle the toxic treatment. Your points are well taken !
In the corridors of time, I've navigated the treacherous currents of open-heart surgeries, valves, and pacemakers. The weight of precautions and the looming fear of what could transpire if my heart valve faced trauma-these thoughts became constant companions, echoing through the chambers of my mind.
Yet, amidst these fears, I discovered a profound truth-the narrative of "the man who mastered fear." Countless times, in the theater of my thoughts, I've faced the specter of my own demise. Yet, here I stand, a testament to resilience, embracing life despite the odds. Thirty-six years-the canvas of my life painted with moments of serene calm and turbulent storms. But through it all, I've come to understand a profound realization: while I might have brushed shoulders with mortality more than most, the most excruciating death is succumbing to oneself. An avid open water fisherman, I've come to recognize that my boat wasn't crafted for the tranquil safety of a harbor. No, she was built to challenge the vast, untamed waters beyond, to dance with the waves and chase the winds of adventure. I refuse to see her languish in a harbor, the dreams of her voyages fading into mere wishes. Yes, I tread carefully, navigating educated and manageable risks. Yet, I'd rather embrace the uncertainty of the journey, facing the unknown winds and unpredictable tides than to remain moored in a harbor, waiting for the inevitable. For in the heart of every soul lies a yearning for the adventure that life offers, a call to push my motors beyond the safety of familiarity and comfort. It's not about courting reckless danger, but about seizing the essence of life-to live fully, to chase dreams, and to savor every moment. I refuse to let fear dictate the course of my journey. Instead, I start my motors, steering towards the horizon of possibilities, ready to embrace the wonders and challenges that await. And as I embark on this odyssey, I am reminded-true living lies not in avoiding death, but in embracing life with every breath, every heartbeat, and every adventure.
David Apilado Sr.
Your story is so heroic. Your support has been so helpful to me and I pray for your continued healing. You are such a testament to strength and positive spirit in the midst of struggle. You are a miracle!
Our family will continue to lift you and your family in prayer
Again, Merry Christmas and I look forward to keeping in touch!
Thank you.Just, thank you.I needed to read this at this moment.
Wonderfully said David. I'm sure that you touched many people today.