Mended Hearts Open Forum

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  • 1.  Managing Anexiety

    Posted 02-23-2023 11:29

    Hello folks 

    I'm 54 looking for advice. I have bypass surgery scheduled in March. Needless to say the procedure scares the crap out of me. I feel like I have a good surgeon who has experience and he is confident that I will have a good outcome but as someone who has never really had much experience with anything like this I  am struggling with trying to be positive. I have experienced Anexiety with medical things my whole life and have been on meds for awhile. Normally I can manage it prettty well but this was a complete shock and and feels so overwhelming and out of my control. 
    Any idea's support or positive vibes are appreciated.

    Thanks Everyone 

    Dale Armitage
    Forest Lake MN

  • 2.  RE: Managing Anexiety

    Posted 02-23-2023 13:28



    I have now had two open heart surgeries in my life – in 2001 and February 2022 for my aortic valve and an ascending aneurysm.  Even before my first surgery 22 years ago, when I was quite nervous (I was nervous last year too) I was told that the heart muscle is one area of the human body that physicians have a good handle on.  And they really do.  To them, it is like riding a bike.  While I would not describe it as a fun picnic, I recovered well after both procedures.  We have all lost loved ones to cancer, which they don't yet have a great handle on, but I believe you should do well with your heart.  I hope this helps you.  Sites like this can be very helpful.  All the best to you.


    Dan O'Brien



  • 3.  RE: Managing Anexiety

    Posted 02-26-2023 08:19

    Hi Dale,

    I had an unexpected quadruple this past July so I didn't have any time to be nervous beforehand. I wasn't feeling "right" so I walked over to the hospital and after an EKG, I was told there was a problem. I needed a stent in 2012 and combined whit a family history of heart disease, I knew this would happen eventually. My cardiologist told me on Monday morning that the procedure was scheduled for Wednesday, and I freaked. My first thought was how horrible my dad looked in recovery right after his double (he lived another 30+ years in good health) and I knew this was going to be tough. It was, but the worst part was the anticipation. Keep in mind that you will be out of it for quite a few hours and by the time you are fully awake, your nurses will be getting you out of bed - believe it or not, it should be less than 24 hours. Referring back to my dad, I walked into his hospital room the morning after his surgery and he was sitting in a chair. I'll never forget the image of this tough, street-fighting Brooklyn boy sitting in his gown and clutching his heart pillow. My hospital recovery was just about the same - out of bed super fast, short walks as often as I could and home in about a week.  The toughest part was the recovery at home.  There is so little to do while recovering and it can be frustrating.  I could not even manage a walk around the block for a while but each day was a little better than before. The two most important pieces of advice I can give you are to do your breathing exercises constantly and to pay attention to your mental health. Many cardiac patients (including myself) develop depression and our cardiologists may not be as hip to it as we would like. My primary physician put me on a a low dose of prozac and it has been excellent.

    One last thing - you will probably have some chest pain/pressure for quite a while. It have it and everyone is different - I've heard it lasts anywhere from 3 months to 3 years, which is also frustrating. The experience is/was among the toughest things I've ever had to deal with and I'm sure it won't be easy for you.  Don't underestimate how important it will be to keep your mind active and don't be afraid to tell friends and family if you're down. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel afterwards.

    Best of luck,


    Jeff Salat
    New York, NY

  • 4.  RE: Managing Anexiety

    Posted 02-26-2023 17:13
    Dear Dale
    Thanks for reaching out to us and trusting us with your worries. Of course, you have anxiety. Some ideas
    1. Ask the surgeons office put you on a cancellation list in case an operating time becomes available sooner. ( or there may be a specific to you reason for the timetable).
    2. try some meditation. ask your doctors ( cardiologist etc) for an anti-anxiety medication, if appropriate for you.
    3. tell friends and church to put you on prayer list.
    4. and (this sounds depressing but is actually quite comforting ) up date your will and power of attorney etc forms
    5. You have selected a surgeon and hospital that is recommended to you, you feel trust in your surgeon… and know that this procedure is necessary for you in order to enjoy the future. You have a lot to look forward to.

    My open heart surgery was 10 years ago. Since then, i have had the pleasure for meeting 3 new grandchildren!!!
    Gooooooo get ‘em ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
    Marilyn B. Rosenhouse
    Mobile: (214)850-0655

  • 5.  RE: Managing Anexiety

    Posted 02-26-2023 21:12
    Hey there Dale,

    Your anxiety is perfectly normal, and a natural response to what you're going through. Great news though: a bypass is the most common type of heart procedure aside from having a stent  put in, and surgeons perform thousands each year. More promising news is that almost no one dies from open heart surgery anymore. I have survived two open heart valve repairs in the past 12 years. The first week post-op is no picnic, but after that the healing process is quite miraculous. Have confidence in your surgical team, in your cardiologist, and most importantly in yourself. Remember, all of us have or had anticipatory anxiety, so you're not alone. Let me know if you need to talk. 

    With warm regards,
    Boca Raton

  • 6.  RE: Managing Anexiety

    Posted 02-27-2023 17:51

    Hi Dale:

    I was told in 2021 that I needed bypass surgery.  I had no symptoms and felt fine.  The surgeon told me I was a walking time bomb.  This was in May of that year.  The cardiologist told me I could wait until September.  This was not a good option because I would be a basket case if I waited that long to get the procedure done.  I found that speaking to other people who had the procedure made me feel better.  I was not happy about it but realized it must be done.  I was told the realities of the recovery period and also wanted to do cardiac rehab.  I was fortunate because I was always active.  The recovery period was difficult but at least I knew this going in.  It took about a year for me to get back to almost normal.  My only complaint now is that my legs feel different.  Of course, that is where they took the veins from.  I find I am not walking as fast as I used to, but I am doing pretty well and have resumed traveling (even going to Antartica).  I worked hard during rehab and when asked why, I told them that I intended to go back to traveling and handling my suitcases.  Having something to look forward to is a good incentive.  I was 71 when I had the procedure.  You are much younger than me and have a lot more years to enjoy.  It sounds like you have confidence in your surgeon.  Worry is a useless expenditure of time and energy.  Spend the effort on something productive like planning how you are going to enjoy the many years ahead of you.


  • 7.  RE: Managing Anexiety

    Posted 02-28-2023 06:53


    By way of contrast to most of what you've heard about recovery time frames, I was 67 years old when I had a heart attack and then next day emergency quintuple bypass surgery.  By 3 months post surgery, I had graduated rehab and was back at NY Sports Club lifting weights with all the youngsters.  After 5 months, I was running again. The weights were baby weights at first compared to what I used to lift but, in addition to still healing from the surgery, I also was 40 pounds lighter, which affects how much you can lift.  By the end of a year, though, I was pound for pound stronger than pre-surgery.

    I never did have much pain unless I coughed or sneezed and even that disappeared within weeks of the surgery.  When people ask me how sick I felt post surgery, I tell them that I was much sicker when I had measles as a kid and it wasn't even a close comparison.

    Upon awakening and coming off the ventilator/breathing tube, I felt nothing but joy during this entire recovery period.  Although I came down off this high eventually (basically when I returned to my stressful job as a lawyer 3 months post surgery), I remained and remain changed forever. I am a survivor and the trivialities that bother most people around me I just don't care about anymore.

    Good luck and have a strong recovery,


    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ

  • 8.  RE: Managing Anexiety

    Posted 02-28-2023 13:00

    Thank you to everyone who responded to my post 

    You are all very kind and helpful. Still have freak out moments but I'm inspired by your success stories.

    Maybe when this is behind me I can help others going through this like you have helped me. 

    Dale Armitage
    Forest Lake MN