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AHAASAKatie, October 23, 2020 8:59am EST
Good morning! You have had to manage a lot in these last 10 days. I can share the information we have on recovery after Heart Valve surgery with you. And, I look forward to reading what our other members can share regarding their experiences. Best Katie
tomohm, October 23, 2020 9:29am EST
Hello wolff... I'm glad overall your procedure was a success and you're on the road to recovery. I'm two weeks away from my surgery and what you desribe about lack of engery, lack of sleep and being sore I suppose is the dred I have myself when my time comes. Hopefully in the end after we heal and back to ourselves, the experience will only make us stronger! Thanks for the update and stay strong!
AmbassadorMR, October 25, 2020 1:52pm EST
Welcome to the support site Wolff. As a heart valve replacement patient myself, I can certainly relate to your recovery challenges with heart rhythm issues and the fatigue that goes along with the condition. When your heart is not beating in rhythm it makes even the most basic of tasks quite challenging. Even though your mitral valve was repaired and is hopefully prviding much more efficient blood flow, the rhythm issue is an unfortunate side effect of many of these heart valve repair/replacement procedures. Your need for a pacemaker and ICU treatment indicates that your rhythm disturbance was significant and not the type that is treated with medication alone.
Having said all this, the vast majority of us as heart valve patients experience good outcomes once you have had the time to heal and rehabilitate. I mention rehab because it is a key part of your recovery and getting back to your more normal heart function and life. Don't get too discouraged with the fatigue because it tends to improve right along with your overall heart valve and heart rhythm recovery process. I'm not the most patient type so I was always wishing things would improve faster. I can tell you that 3 months after my surgery and at the completion of my rehab program I felt like a new man and was back fully to my pre-op physical activity. It's a process and you just need to let the healing happen and listen closely to the direction that your doctors and rehab staff give you.
I wish you all the best in your recovery and keep the faith - you can do this!
AmbassadorC, October 25, 2020 6:43pm EST
Good evening Wolff,
A warm welcome to the support network, as you are among a community of heart warriors, as we are each other's strength for the journey ahead. While we are all different in terms of our heart conditions, we are united by taking things one beat at a time, in a positive direction. What you describe is very much indicative of the recovery process, that we have all experienced in one form or another. For me, my journey with heart valve disease involved a repair to the mitral valve via open heart surgery. I, like you, experienced arrythimias post surgery, that I didn't necessarily experience before surgery. While this is not to be construed as medical advice, at the time, I didn't realize this is a rather common side effect of heart surgery, as I have come to learn. Having said that, it can become rather frustrating, as I can relate to. For one, I did not realize that going into heart surgery as a very healthy individual, but for the heart valve issues, I would come out, feeling like I needed to learn how to walk all over again. I can most definitly relate to your struggles and frustrations. Like my fellow Heart Valve Ambassador MR very well stated, " vast majority of us as heart valve patients experience good outcomes once you have had the time to heal and rehabilitate. I mention rehab because it is a key part of your recovery and getting back to your more normal heart function and life. Don't get too discouraged with the fatigue because it tends to improve right along with your overall heart valve and heart rhythm recovery process. I'm not the most patient type so I was always wishing things would improve faster.", I couldn't agree with more. Overall, I wanted to be back to "normal" as quickly as possible. Because I endured many obstacles to getting back to normal, post op, I had to adapt and overcome and adjust to my "new normal" . This included being on a host of different medications post surgically to help me with my heart rythms, blood thinners, pain medications and the like. I think the hardest pill for me to swallow, was not so much dealing with the physical pain due to the surgery, but instead, "acquiring" other issues such as the atrial flutter, and afib which resulted in a cardiac catheter ablation within 4 months of open heart surgery recovery.
I also agree with my fellow Ambassador MR in his recommendation for joining a caridac rehab program. While I was able to do so at the onset of recovery, when I began to develop other issues, I was not able to graduate within my perscribed time frame. By that, I mean, that the best outcome I had hoped for was to enlist in the cardiac rehab class and use that as a jump starting point to continue on a fitness plan that would recondition my heart. When I presented for class with my heart rate at approximately 180 beats per minute, when the standard beats per minute are anywhere from 60 -100, I would become deeply discouraged and frustrated. That said, I still had the support of like minded patients and staff that would encourage me to not give up and keep on pressing on. Cardiac rehab programs not only provide a physical safety net for monitoring your acitivies when your heart is stressed by the telemetry monitors that the staff uses to keep a watchful eye on your heart / heart rate, but also provides you with a group of like minded patients who share the same concerns and stresses that you do. My recommendation would be to keep in close touch with your cardiologist and ask when the timing is right for you to join a cardiac rehab group. You will find a very positive support group, both mentally and physically.
I am hopeful that these expereinces of both Ambassador MR and myself, have provided you with some comfort and reassurance that with every heart beat, you will be closer to feeling better. My heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery and please feel free to reach out with any other questions or concerns, as we are "hear" for each other.
Keep on fighting with heart,
AmbassadorC, October 25, 2020 6:47pm EST
While this is a repost below, this also may help with some insight into post surgical recovery.
Adapt and Overcome - What is your New Normal?
Adapt and Overcome - What is your New Normal?
I recently celebrated my three year anniversary from open heart surgery for a mitral valve repair on June 13th. In many ways, it feels like a second birthday. A time to celebrate, a time for reflection and a time to appreciate all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me during this journey. Yesterday, I completed my "maintenance check up" and I could not help but pause and reflect upon the many obstacles that I have overcome in my first year of recovery. There were many speed bumps on the road to recovery and I felt as if they were road blocks at times. I look back and think to myself, how did I get through all of this? The answer: To Adapt and Overcome.
While it may sound quite simple, it can be quite challenging. As I reflect upon the beginning of my journey, I had to "adapt" when life threw me a curve ball and I was told that it was time to have open heart surgery to repair a leaking valve. Life doesn't always go as we plan. We have a choice, we can either ignore the issue and hope that it goes away, or adapt and overcome.
The best laid plans for my recovery, didn't go as I had thought. I had prepared, researched and prepared some more, researched and prepared. I had many lists and checked them twice, even three times. What was not on my list is what would become my "new normal". As I hit the various speed bumps upon my road to recovery (fluid around my heart, atrial flutter, irregular heartbeat resulting in 3 cardioversions, atrial fibrillation and a catheter ablation) within 4 months of open heart surgery, my recovery plan did not allow for flexibility. I thought I would have this surgery, go through the healing process and be "fixed". I quickly needed to learn how to "overcome" these obstacles. Swelling, weight gain, rapid heart beats, restricted diet, bouts of lightheadnesses, fatigue and low blood pressure just to name a few, are what became my new "normal" at various times during my recovery. These were tough pills to swallow at first.
I am happy to report that the outcome of my "maintenance check up" yesterday was a positive one. While my valve has been repaired, I still feel occasional palpitations, and at times lightheadnesses but my heart is beating as strong as ever. My blood pressure tends to run low, but I am alive and kicking. I am no longer restricted by rapid heart beats, even though I still get PVC's. I am able to kick box 3-4 times a week and I keep fighting with heart. My research and checklists have allowed me to pay it forward and help make someone else's journey a little easier. This has become my "new normal" and I continue to "kick out" heart disease one beat at a time.
What is your new normal? How have you adapted and overcome?
NewPacer73, November 13, 2020 9:17am EST
Wolff, you made me laugh outloud. Cement. Yep. Felt like moving cement to walk at first. Pain at the pacemaker site. Yep. Affected my sleep too until I invented a thing to stablize the site that kept it from moving around while I slept. Pacemaker needing adjustments. Yep, me too. Now over a year has passed. I am 74 and have a great quality of life and some really good numbers with that doctor in the chest (what I call my pacemaker) on board monitoring me 24 x 7. If I have a problem of some symptom that concerns me, I contact the pacemaker clinic on the patient portal, let them know the date and time of day of symptoms and transmit data to them from the monitor. Within 15 minutes if not on a weekend (two days if yes), it's checked and so far zero problems found for three events. For me, it's a getting used to understanding the pacemaker really is doing it's job... a confidence thing. So, add instant gratification and relaxation reaction to the pacemaker benefits list. Hang in there. Soon you will not know you have it and you will be back to normal regular life. It's the best thing ever for me.