Mar 10
cbodkin
cbodkin , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

Recovering from recent heart surgery

I am 55 competitive Type A person and recently had open heart surgery to perform a double bypass and aortic valve and stem replacement. My condition really started in late 2015 after my fourth surgery on my shoulder to deal with a stubborn infection.  Listening to my heart my infectious disease doctor commented on my heart murmur.  I told her is was something I have always had but that every other doctor has just made a passing comment.  This doctor however referred me to a cardiologist who ordered additional tests where we discovered a bicuspid aortic valve and evidence of infectious endocarditus. From that point on I began to feel progressively work tired, short of breath, chest tightness, etc.  All of this led to additional tests and a discovery of significant blockage in the  LDA and RCA  arteries.  Apparently, I have a genetic problem that prevents my body from adequately absorbing LDL.  For most of my life up to late 2015 it was kept in check by my athletic activity. (I had cut that back significant as a result of the 2015 surgery and just had not gotten back to it with the aortic valve issues taking place). As my condition worsened the treatment was to try and get the valve to last as long as possible treating my symptoms (cholesterol and angina) through medication. All of that worked until February 1 of this year.  On that day I had just finished a meeting at my church with a fellow member who had been through heart surgery.  He was helping me understand the surgical and recovery process.  It felt good to talk to someone about it.  After that meeting I was driving to work and started having angina pain that worsened and did not go away.  Instead of treating it with a dose of nitro (the reason for that is a long story) I turned around and headed for the emergency room.  Once there they informed me that I would not be leaving that day.  Additionally tests were performed to discover my blockages and valve disorder had progressed significantly warranting surgery on February 6 of this year.  I should note that several people told me that once the valve starts to go it happens pretty quickly.  That was certainly true in my case.  Less than a year from when my symptoms first started.

That was the short version of the story.  I am still recovering and am overwhelmed by just how hard it is to do so.  I started cardiac rehab this past week and often wonder if I am going to be able to get my strength and endurance back.  Everyone assures me that I will get there but that I have to have patience and not to push to hard at this stage...Patience...that is just one of the many things God is teaching me through this whole process.
5 Comments
  • Chris M
    Chris M,
    I am praying for your complete recovery. My son had to have surgery where he received a synthetic graft of his ascending aorta due to dilatation and repair of his bicuspid aortic valve, so that he could keep his natural valve as long as possible. He was just nine. His recovery was very hard for him. Even trying to catch up on homework was hard because he found it hard to concentrate. He had pain, was so tired, and didn't want to do his walks. We would bribe him by bringing a wagon in case he got too tired. I guess you're too big for that. Mentally, he was depressed. We addressed that too, professionally. Heart surgery is an assault on your body. He did get better and is now 22. His heart is doing well....so far, so good. We are very thankful for all of God's blessings.
  • arnieandcaroline13
    arnieandcaroline13,
    As a Veteran hopefully I don't need need open heart surgery I going to check to see if I do God Bless both .
  • ActiveLarry
    ActiveLarry,
    Recovery is a process. You are retraining your heart to provide the blood supply you used to take for granted. ANY fatigue is too much. Do not let anyone push you to fatigue, since as a heart patient, recovery is longer. Always watch your heart rate. Only do exercise that you can maintain a steady heart rate, or minor rise then steady pace. Continuous rise is a warning you are approaching fatigue. Begin with what does not tire you, no matter how slight that is. My start was a 20 foot walk, very very slow. Six years later I could play 6 on 6 volleyball for as long as I wanted, even going over 6 hours with minimal breaks. I also play some basketball, and scull. Be patient. Active Larry
  • AHA/ASA Sarah Ismail
    AHA/ASA Sarah Ismail,
    There is a lot to learn as you start this new journey to recovery for yourself. Wishing you all the best, Sarah
  • JamesPL
    JamesPL,
    I was 56 when I had bypass surgery. Like you, I am physically active. After I came home from the hospital, I could barely walk to the end of my driveway and back. Each day I walked a little more and slowly but surely, I felt my strength coming back. Once I started rehab, I slowly progressed to the point of running on the treadmill. I resumed my normal running routine about three months after the surgery. So yes, you have to be patient but eventually it will pay off. Good luck with your recovery process and I wish you well!
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