I'm finding that I'm not alone in my journey...over 2 million procedures are performed globally every year with over 700,000 of those in the USA. Yet, when I had my triple bypass & valve replacement on Easter Sunday, just 8 weeks ago, I was definitely feeling overwhelmed and having a hard time getting my head wrapped around it.
I went to my primary care physician with symptoms I'd never experienced. He sent me to a cardiologist, who had me admitted to the emergency dept at the hospital next door, where we thought there might be a chance of a stent and a return home within a couple of days.
Diagnostics showed the need for triple bypass and mitral valve replacement. And it was two weeks later when I returned home. After 6 weeks at home I'm experiencing the typical physical symptoms of recovery and have just recently started having some anxiety related to the whole ordeal. It's hard to describe to people who haven't any idea of what one goes through with this but I feel the folks here might know. At this point I'm thinking of seeing a therapist to help me get through the cardiac blues.
Otherwise, all is pretty good, mending as expected, sternum is still tender, pulse ox being taken after any exertion and after each meal with meds and averaging 95/72. BP stable and good. Just need to get my head straight after all of this.
I appreciate reading all the stories of other experiences here...it's really helping me understand that mine is not unique and is manageable.
Welcome to the site, Michael! My story is similar to yours but involved a "minor" heart attack, planning for a stent and then being rushed into emergency quintuple bypass surgery. I was in the hospital for 3 weeks, 2 of them in a medically induced coma due to a post-surgery bout with pneumonia, and then another 3 weeks in a rehab hospital learning to walk again. This was nearly 5 1/2 years ago and I'm fit as a fiddle again and have been for the last 5 years.
The biggest difference in our respective experiences is that I never suffered from depression or anxiety. Not for a minute. Not for a nanosecond. From the moment I woke up from the coma, I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude to everyone that had saved my life, to the doctors, nurses, orderlies, to my wife and daughter, to the universe for giving me this gift of borrowed time.
My advice to you is live in the now. The past and future are not real. They are just the movies you play in your head about what you think happened and what you fear might happen in the future. The only reality is the breeze on your face right now. Feel it. Experience it. You can do it this very moment. By all means try therapy or meditation or both, but know that you've been given a gift to aid you in recognizing the preciousness of life in this instant and every instant after, the eternal now.
Michael- You've outdone me, but I'm 12-years past a mitral valve repair and single bypass and, at 81, feel terrific and am quite active. You can not believe how much better you can become. Hang in there and stay positive.
I'm about 11 weeks into recovery and my chest is healing up quite well. However, I still have discomfort in my leg where the vein was harvested. My surgeon said that the leg discomfort is a regular post surgical acknowledgement by patients. In my case, I've also got some minor pain to the touch on the inside of my ankle on that leg. No bruising though, just tenderness that doesn't seem to want to stop.
Chest is still tender but each week is better. There is some numbness on the right side of my incision, that extends about 3 inches out from the incision. So far...so good though!
It's nice to meet another Ira. There aren't many of us.
I, too, had quintuple bypass surgery with veins harvested from both legs and a mammary artery as well. My surgery was 5 1/2 years ago.
It is difficult for me to assess what may or may not be happening in your case because you haven't provided much information beyond the basic facts. For example, how old are you? How is your health aside from the fact that you have cardiovascular disease? Were you/are you athletic? A couch potato? Has your weight changed greatly? Have you gone for a physical and had a complete blood count? What were the results? Your answers to these questions may also answer why you currently feel the way you do?
I had my bypass surgery at the age of 67+. At the time, I had been seriously engaged in weightlifting and calisthenics for 55 years nonstop. I also had been a serious runner until sciatica ended my running career but I was still walked and cycled a lot. I was unable to lift the weights I lifted when I was 40 or 50, but I knew that was age related.
I am now nearly 6 years older than when I had my heart attack and bypass surgery. I'm also 35 pounds lighter than I was then, and at least half that weight is lost muscle. I still lift weights just as avidly and regularly as I ever did, but the weights I now struggle to lift for three reps are baby weights compared to even my warmup weights a quarter century ago. I'm afraid to do handstand pushups anymore because my balance is no longer that great. My walking speed has slowed dramatically over the last 6 years. I get more tired now and need more naps. I don't sleep as well or as long as I once did.
The point is that I'm now 73 years old and in seemingly good health other than my cardiovascular disease. My cardiologist thinks I'm amazing and, compared to most people my age, he's probably right. So what's going on? I'm getting old. I am old! Things don't work as well anymore. I sometimes can't answer Jeopardy questions instantly anymore even when I know the answers. I've slowed down.
After my bypass surgery the discharge report from rehab (that's a separate story) described me as an "elderly gentleman." I was 67 and furious at that description. Now? Not so much. I AM elderly, if not quite a gentleman. And I'm proud of it. And I'm getting physically weaker each year despite all my exercise and soon I'm going to die. Today? Next year? Ten years from now? Who knows? But whenever it is, I will be okay. I've lived a full life, been blessed more than many, and I'll take pleasure in slowly walking home to merge with this amazing universe of ours and with all those who've gone before us.
Ira, I don't know if you're 35 or 75. But maybe it's just that you're getting older.
All the best brother,
You are right--not many Ira's around. I had my surgery when I was 71. Blood work has been fine, probably could drop 10 lbs.. I was always active and after surgery the PT person was amazed at how well I was doing. You are right when you talk about getting older and things do not work like they used to. My problem probably is psychological in that I do not want to accept it. I had no problems walking prior to surgery and now just walk slower. I know I should be happy that at least I am vertical and walking. I love traveling and am concerned about limitations on activities. Never had to worry about that.
I turn 70 this December and have noticed a slow down but even at my new, slower pace, I'm not as slow as I was prior to the surgery. However, lately I've been experiencing some minor pain in my chest muscles & tissue. Sometimes it's difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. If I position myself in any way that puts pressure on my chest it becomes intolerable at a nuisance level. Last night I had to take a hydrocodone 325 just to get to relieve the discomfort and get to sleep.
What surprises me is that, at this point...13 weeks out of surgery...I'm still feeling my sternum hasn't healed completely. In my earlier years I recovered from bone breaks in 8-10 weeks and by the 12th week was completely healed. I feel like this sternum recovery is going to take 6 months, maybe more, and suspect that's due to age.
Last night I couldn't escape the feeling that my body has been radically altered and what a strange thing that has been to experience.
After I had my quintuple bypass 5 1/2 years ago at age 67, I experienced muscle soreness in my left pectoral injury sort of like a muscle strain. It was relieved by stretching but took some months before going away completely.
During this period, I also learned that one of the blood vessels used by my surgeon in performing the bypass was my left mammary artery. I learned that use of this artery is increasingly more common in bypass surgery because arterial grafts are far less likely than vein grafts to get blocked by new plaque.
Anyway, when I realized that the surgeon had been cutting around this tissue to harvest the artery, I recognized that I was experiencing scar tissue formation and healing.
Hope this helps.
Hi Michael, My name is Pete and I had a "5" bypass ten years ago. Wow - how the years go by. I'm 67 and remember that it takes a long time for the sternum too heal - in fact, I'm not sure it will ever be as it was before it opened up. That said, unless you'r doing some really stressful activities you will be fine. Remember to take it easy, don't push the recovery. Walking is great, but don't overdo on lifting. Take care, Pete
My surgery was almost 11 years ago. Heart surgery is very serious stuff; it takes a while for the bones muscles nerves et to heal. I was told it would be at least a year before feeling "normal ". However, If you are concerned, check with your surgeon!!!
Meanwhile I live in Dallas. We have an active Mended Hearts chapter based in Plano. We would love to have you come to meetings, dinners etc. Please contact me if you would like to get on our email list!
It is difficult for me to assess what may or may not be happening in your case because you haven't provided much information beyond the basic facts. For example, how old are you? How is your health aside from the fact that you have cardiovascular disease? Were you/are you