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5 more days!
I'll be getting a new aortic valve in 5 days. It will be a tissue valve. I had the choice of a mechanical one or tissue but to be taking coumadin for the rest of my life is something that is too much of a life change. I have experienced many "signs" over the last week or so while contemplating either valve and it is clear as day that I am making the right decison. The team of doctors I have at Hartford Hospital are informative and caring. I spent 50 minutes yesterday on the phone with a nurse that went over every single detail about what to expect regarding everything. I have actually made some new friends that have shared their heart surgery stories during these past couple weeks and even my current friends have become closer with their caring thoughts and good karma. I am ready for this whole thing but the only one issue I am anxious about is the time that I will awake in ICU with the breathing tube still in. For some reason this breathing tube has got me going over and over again in my head about it. I understand that it only will breath for me when it is needed and up until my breathing takes over completely. My wrists will be gently restrained. Will I want to take it out and get frustrated and upset when I can't move? Will I feel like I am suffocating? Will it hurt while it is in? Will it hurt when they take it out? I know everything that will be done is to move forward to recovering but I just can't shake this one thing!
AmbassadorDN, February 6, 2019 8:07am EST
Wishing you the best on your upcoming surgery!
I was fortunate enough to wake up after each valve surgery (I’ve had three: one repair and two replacements) without the breathing tube. However, a complication after surgery #3 put me back in the OR, and I woke up with the tube. I remember all the wise advice my heart friends had given me: Don’t resist it, relax, try to breathe along with it. Fortunately I was mostly “out,” but at one time in the middle of the night, I was feeling uneasy so I motioned for my nurse and she held my hand for a while. I believe I had the tube in a total of nine hours before it was removed. First, before removing the breathing tube, the nurses will need to test you to see if you are able to breathe on your own. Once they determine you can, they will likely have you take a deep breath and cough as they remove the tube. This is to help relax your windpipe as they pull the tube out. It didn’t hurt, thankfully.
One thing I can advise if you do awaken with the breathing tube is this: Once the tube is removed, you’ll probably have a bit of a sore throat and it might be difficult to swallow. Your medical team will want you to eat, but do ask for soft foods/ soups the first day after your tube is removed, at least. I wish I had because it was so hard to eat and I nearly choked on the chicken I was served.
Do keep us posted, and we will all be here waiting for you on “the other side of the mountain”!
To Heart and Soul Health,
AHAASAKatie, February 6, 2019 9:03am EST
Good morning, I am so glad that you are here with us! I do not have personal experience with this, but we have some great members who do. Ambassador DN has given you some great advice and I look to reading other responses as well. Please let us know how things go and know that we are thinking of you. Best Katie.
tmwright88, February 6, 2019 12:03pm EST
This was also my biggest fear when I was getting ready for surgery. I had quite a bit of anxiety about it. I awoke with the tube in and struggled for a second but they talked comfortably to me and once it breathed for me, I was fine and relaxed. I found if I just listened to them, the anxiety disappeared. Pulling it out a minute or so later felt weird but it wasn't bad at all and I felt fine afterward. Yes, as Ambassador DN has indicated there can be other things such as a sore throat and a dry mouth but the whole thing was much less of an issue than I had feared. All the best for your surgery and wish you a speedy and healthy recovery.
Timothy825, February 7, 2019 5:29pm EST
Had my aortic valve replaced 12-28-18. Spent 12 hrs in ICU and 2 days in cardiology and then went home. Had open heart mini invasive went through right side of chest. I was having a hard time with the idea of waking up on ventilator. I woke up within an hour in ICU and they removed my ventilator before I even knew it was even there. I had a bio cow valve installed. I knew I would not do well on blood thinners. The biggest problem I have now is nerve pain and eye floaters. That say wait 4 months to see if nerve issues go away. I think my anxiety was getting the best of me beforehand. Was Back to work in 3 weeks and now 6 weeks out with no restrictions and feeling strong. Please take my advise relax they have this,Trust them and in god.
AmbassadorC, February 7, 2019 9:05pm EST
Welcome to the support network. Wishing you the very best for a successful surgery. I had OHS to repair a leaking valve and did wake up intubated. I am a person who gets claustrophobic and feared the same things as you mentioned. From what I remember, I recall being somewhat still sedated when I realized that the tube was still in. When it was actually time to have it removed, I recall having to take a deep breath and cough. The only thing that truly hurt was the sternum because it was just cut into. I definitely recall being parched after the tube was removed. That said, I was given ice chips. I wanted so badly to drink water but couldn’t because of the anesthesia and naseua. The take away is that getting the tube removed isn’t as bad as you may envision.
Please feel free to circle back post surgery and let us know how things are going. We are here for you and welcome you with heart ❣️
AmbassadorC, February 7, 2019 9:33pm EST
I also invite you, if you have not already, to review the Heart Valve educational resources re recovery from OHS. There is a fantastic milestone recovery chart that can assist you in tracking your progress. There are additional handy references as well. Best wishes as you will soon join the many heart warriors here.
From my heart to yours,