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I need some information from those of you who have had open heart surgery.

dreherdreher Member Posts: 7,131 ✭✭✭
I have always said I'm not afraid of much of anything.  That is pretty much a true statement but this is scaring the hell out of me.  The problem isn't me it is my wife.  We found out she needs her mitral valve either repaired or replaced.  She has to be split down through her chest.  Obviously that has to hurt, as in real bad.  I'm 73.  I will do my best to take care of her but I have problems with not being strong enough since the stroke I had 5 years ago to maybe help her get up, get to the bathroom and what ever else needs done.   

My wife is the healthiest person I know.  Very low blood pressure, works hard and exercises daily, 5'5", 121 lbs., diet is heavy on fish and veggies, light on red meat , will be 48 in one week, looks like late 30's.  We have been married for 22 years and this is the first time I will have to be the one taking care of her not the other way around.   I hate that this has to happen to her and, yes, I'm to death scared this could go south.  

So for those who have been through having their chest opened up, how bad is it??  I have heard one person tell me after a couple of days it wasn't to bad.  I'm having trouble believing that but hope it's true.  What support from me will she need most??  We don't have a recliner chair, would that be easier for her to sleep in the first few weeks, easier to get in and out of as opposed to trying to use our bed.   I've been wanting a Lazyboy for some time, this might be a reason to get one.  Any and all tips and advice will be very welcome.  I want to be there for her and hope I am capable of taking care of her in the manner that she deserves because she is truly the best woman in the entire universe, at least for me.  When we have a date and it is drawing near I'll be asking for prayers!!!!!  Tearing up just thinking about this.

Comments

  • susiesusie Member Posts: 5,552 ✭✭✭

    I never had it, but my late husband had quadruple bypass when he was 48. These are the things that bothered him most: coughing, laughing and bowel movements. He didn't have much of an issue getting up or down. In fact, two days after coming home he took a one mile walk.


    Being in good physical shape really helps. Strong muscles around the area ease the strain of those that are in play after the surgery.


    Prayers said for you and your bride.

  • hillbillehillbille Member Posts: 10,857 ✭✭✭
    when i first got home from my triple bypass, our mailman had given us a electric lift recliner, I spent a lot of time in it as I could push the buttun to raise it up and get out. only bad thing about the bed is getting in and out, trying to move and not hurt your chest. I would almost agree with the person who said after the first week you will know what you can and can't do as per pain and bending. you can't really use any upper body strength as it hurts may look at renting a lift chair for the first month or so, I kept a pillow on the legrest part of the recliner to put my leg on where they took the veins out, I could move it with the remote just inch or so at time either way to get comfortable, or as much as possible.

    toilet issues weren't to bad we have a sink/cabinet right beside the toilet and I could lay my elbow/arm on it to get up and down without a lot of strain on the chest. worst part ot sleeping will be having to get used to sleeping flat on your back, just rolling on side to get up and down is painfull enough no way you can sleep on side for few months, I still can't and it has been 3 years, my chest and arms start to hurt and tingle after about 30 minutes, don't know if this is typical or not. she will be  assigned physical therapists  to work with her before she goes home, you can sit in on the sessions or you could before the viruse hit and learn or ask anything you are curious about to them they will be able to answer all your concerns once they see how much she can do for herself.

     prayers and best wishes to you and her for speedy recovery,  Paul
  • hillbillehillbille Member Posts: 10,857 ✭✭✭
    one other thing I carried my left arm like it was in a sling for month or so after surgery, I would use it to hug tight to my chest to cut down on the pain, I kept it their 24/7 to help getting up down/ in out of bed ect, well it locked up from immobility? not using it enough and could not raise it over my head, ended up in therapy for that down the road, even if you don't lift weights with arms and legs make sure she stretches to full range few times a day to keep them moving.
  • gjshawgjshaw Member Posts: 13,991 ✭✭✭

    When my in-laws had open heart surgery I got them a electric lift chair. He lived in that chair for the first couple of months. I think you can rent them now.

  • Marc1301Marc1301 Member Posts: 31,784 ✭✭✭
    As others have mentioned, get a lift chair. Either buy one, or you can rent one from a medical supply place. Both my Mother, and my late step-father had CABG surgery. My Mother said it was no big deal, and didn't require bathroom help or anything like that . She DID use that lift chair a lot, and slept in it for a few weeks. Coughing, sneezing, heavy laughter are not good for awhile, and she will need to carry her 'heart pillow' around with her for a period of time. I got her a contraption for the toilet that raised the seat up, and had handles on the side to help you get up or down. She said that helped a lot. Overall my Mom healed quickly from the procedure, and has no lasting pain or weird sensations.

    She also had abdominal surgery where part of her colon was removed, and said that was terrible in comparison. Cutting through the abdominal muscle wall takes a good while to heal from, and is extremely painful. Be glad she is not having that done.
    "Beam me up Scotty, there's no intelligent life down here." - William Shatner
  • Ditch-RunnerDitch-Runner Member Posts: 18,545 ✭✭✭
     I was 48 yrs old ( 15 years ago )  . a series of me just wanting to be sure and passing all the test and stress test 
    had a heart  cath done 98 99% blocked docs told me I should have never passed all the test  but I had a week maybe a couple months I would have just fallen over dead 
     any way next morning I went under the knife no way to put a stent in so I had little time to think it over 
    way more but for now
     I was in good shape no t over weight  outward appearance or issues to trigger a alert BP always low no chest pain 
      since then a lot of my cousins have had to do it its a a heredity issue  (  docs told me that going in  it could be ) 
     yes it hurt I spend 10 days in the hospital . and  had  complications . 
    fluid built up in my chest so a day or two later they put me out pumped out my lungs then found it was in my  chest cavity so 
    they explained not going to put me under so just shoved a needle into my chest yes it hurt also I was awake,   and I had a for lack of words a briefcase to carry for a couple days the fluid drained into  .
          as for the surgery they took the artery out of my left arm to do repairs so I have a scar about a foot long on my arm from that  . but suppose to hold up better than one from your leg  . honestly I thought should not be too bad I had a hernia surgery and it was not so bad . I was wrong 
    it hurt bad first several days  they were giving me some high dose pain meds one of them they could only do twice with out harming my organs it also took several days before I had the strength to try to walk they had a nurse helping me first few times about 25 to 50 feet was it and I was done but slowly increased that shocked me it the procedure  pulled so much energy out of me 
           I was on a heart / lung machine for a lot longer they they guessed I would be and could cause issues for me  but not enough room to tell the whole  boring story but I told them after the 10 day I have to get home and they agreed to release me .     my wife and sons had set up a bed ( a old adjustable  bed we had when my MIL stayed with us ) in the living room  it took several weeks before I could get around and lost most of the pain , I was off work about 8 to 10  weeks and had the doc's release me  but my choice not theirs they would have let me longer 
              my chest hurt for at least a year +  not bad just uncomfortable .  
                  the surgeon told me older people  over 60 seem to recover better as there muscle mass was  not as  much as  younger person and a lot of older people with in a couple few days are up and going like little happened younger people not so much   
          summery yes for a few weeks the pain was bad but slowly went away ( for me )  like a lot of things every body is different mine just did not go as smooth as most 
          they told me when they cut you open they force your arms down and tie them stretched backwards to help spread your chest  and using the chest spreaders a lot of muscles  and bones get stretched out of place 
     I swore I would never do it again it hurt that bad  but now I am sure I would do it as the alternative is a lot worse 

     do not fear it so much they keep getting better at it 
      my story well  I was just a extreme case of extra issues that came along 
    best of luck and I am sure it will turn out well do not be scared  a few weeks worth of pain and inconvenience and having some one help a few days with some things are out weighed by  many years of life is worth it 


     


  • Ditch-RunnerDitch-Runner Member Posts: 18,545 ✭✭✭
    will add follow the doctors advice do not push recovery or over do it 
     about 4 weeks in I was back doing a barn tear down and thought it may be good to be doing the exercise I was lifting and carrying a lot of the old barn beams ,, wrong '
    I had a visit to the surgeon a couple days later as one of the follow up  and told him what I was doing . he ripped me  new one  I said the doc told me I could do what ever I felt like as I got better 
     he said I am the fellow who put you back together your  ribs are wired together with wire do not lift any thing over 20 pounds for six  to eight weeks at least and that's stretching it , take it easy give it time to heal  I had been lifting well over hundred  pound beams  and assorted items 
     he reminded me and he has had to cut people back open to repair and replace the wires from being broke doing too much and its not pleasant so stop it  
     so just take it easy follow the docs and surgeon orders 
     my wife and sons did a lot for me helping me in and out of bed hauling food and drink to me helping me to the bath room 
    with out going into details my wife had to go a bit extra as I could not use my arms for some cleaning issues for a few days .
     
     keep a pillow handy to hug tight if you sneeze or cough it hurts bad and hugging the pillow  helps with the pressure ( the hospital gave me one shaped like a big heart LOL ) as for the lazy boy   getting up out of a sitting position is no fun so I would avoid a chair for while also . I would roll in or out of the bed and had help getting up right , but time will take care of most all of that then the chair will be welcome addition 
     one of my nurses ( for what is worth ) told me her husband was a sniper in VN and one trick he was taught and she passed on to every one  if you feel like a sneeze coming on press your tongue hard against the roof of your mouth it helps keep you from sneezing it worked most of the time for me any way . 
  • Bubba Jr.Bubba Jr. Member Posts: 6,302 ✭✭✭
    I had quintuple bypass surgery in 2015. On the same day of the surgery they had me get up and walk out to the nurse's station. The nurse asked if I could go any farther, I said sure, so I walked all the way to the end of the corridor, made 3 more left turns, and went back to my room. I asked the nurse if she wanted me to do it again, and she said that I was the first person that made it to the end of the hallway, let alone all the way around the 3rd floor. She asked me how was I able to do that. I told her that I exercised every day and was in reasonable shape. I would have been out in 3 days except my chest tubes were draining more than 100 ml a day, so I had to stay an extra day until I drained less.

    The comments about a lift chair are spot on. I slept in my recliner in the bedroom. I had to get the wife to work the lever as it put too much stress on my sternum.

    Just make sure your wife has her heart pillow with her ALL THE TIME, as you never know when you are going to need it. And when you bring her home from the hospital, don't do what my wife did. I swear she intentionally hit every pothole, bump, and uneven surface she could find on the 1 hour drive home from the hospital.
    My recovery was fairly uneventful, but everyone is different. I had between 85 - 95% blockage in 5 arteries, and to be honest I didn't really feel any different after the surgery than I did before.
    The most important thing to do is, don't stress the sternum, the rest will heal up fairly quickly.
    Best of luck to her,
    Joe


  • nmyersnmyers Member Posts: 16,175 ✭✭✭
    Being a 24 hour-a-day caregiver will wear you down quickly.  When your wife is getting ready to check out of the hospital, they can probably recommend an LPN to work a shift each day at your home, taking care of your wife (& teaching you how to do it without hurting yourself).  A week or two should be enough time.
    Neal
  • chmechme Member Posts: 354 ✭✭✭
    Have NOT had my chest cracked, but AM full time caregiver for my bride, who is unable to stand or walk.  First if your wife is 65, see what Medicare can provide.  Rental of powered beds, lift chairs, etc.  DO check on getting some help- you are looking for a "home health aide" for things like bathing.  Also check on that site that rhymes with bags mist- they have a surprising amount of home health furniture.  I got a Huer lift (hydraulic patient lift) for $50, transport wheelchair for $20.  You can also order a set of handrails for the potty from amazon for $23.  

    I fully understand wanting to care for your lady.   But blow out your back, and the two of you can have matching hospital beds.
  • 4205raymond4205raymond Member Posts: 1,472 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2
    Dreher, stop worrying, your wife will make out great. Been there,done that 5/23/2016  Dr. Craig Smith, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital Mitral Valve Implant. My Army buddy in SC told me to ask before oper "Have you ever done this before" and if answer is no, run like hell.  Dr, responded "many times." he did Bill Clinton, Barbara Walters and on and on. They ran a lot of pre op test on me as Dr. explained "I don't want any suprises  after I cut your chest open". Usually Dr. comes to waiting room but he called my wife in office and really scared her. He said it was complicated but went very well.  Because we were from upstate they let my wife and daughter rent a room for two days in hospital. Really made it less stressful for everyone.

    They were experimenting with some new kind of transponder while i was there and all of the machines going off in alarm drove me crazy for 5 days until they could get my pulse rate down. No sleep and never again, ear plugs next time. I think I was there six days. They gave me this red heart pillow if I needed to cough but my slightly firm pillow worked much better. Very weak from car to chair at home but I really did not need a lift chair once i made it in house. Took a while for swelling to go down in feet and I elevated my head at night to prevent coughing because laying flat made me cough. In six weeks I was good as new.  Those Doc's at Columbia Presbyterian really know their stuff. Wish your wife good luck and a speedy recovery.----------------Ray
    PS: Picture of my buddy Willie protecting my swollen feet once I got in the house. He had terrible separation anxiety. Almost forgot, before they close up your chest they place two very fine wires in your heart that stick out below the sternum to monitor the heart. They very slowly pull them out just before they discharge you.
  • elubsmeelubsme Member Posts: 1,160 ✭✭✭
    I had my mitral valve repaired in 2000.  The doctor  had both a mechanical valve and a pig valve on standby but didn't need either one.  He used a rubber O ring to sew the valve up.  He also removed a large section of my heart because it was enlarged.  I was back to work in 10 weeks.  Put your worries aside, she will be fine and have more energy than ever.  Ed  





















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  • KenK/84BravoKenK/84Bravo Member Posts: 6,436 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 3

    Had my Mitral valve repair in 2005. They were able to go in the right side as opposed to opening me up. (So I am unable to answer that part of your question.) I was in very good shape overall and came through with flying colors. Was walking unassisted up and down the hall and stairs on 2nd day. I was surprised it was not nearly as bad as was my mind had envisioned. Your wife is young and in good shape, I would think it will be the same for her.

    Went on a multi day backpack trip in the Catskills 4 weeks after surgery.

    Will keep you and your Wife in my thoughts and Prayers.



    Yes, I distinctly remember the two little wires they waited till last to remove. "This might hurt a bit." Geez,....................you think?

    Extreme NE TN/W NC ya'll. 😁

  • Smitty500magSmitty500mag Member Posts: 12,653 ✭✭✭
    If my dad was still around today he would say..."don't sneeze". He sneezed shortly after his surgery and thought he blew his heart out of his chest. 
  • buddybbuddyb Member Posts: 3,755 ✭✭✭
    I had a quadruple by pass in 2015.Everybody gave good advice and your wife will be fine.One of the big issues for me was the drugs they gave me during surgery.For about a week after surgery I was pretty loopy.Several times I saw swarms of tiny insects flying around my hospital room and my dog jumped in the bed with me most nights.Of coarse  none of that really happened.My younger brother came to visit me and I ask him if he saw the swarm of insects.He told me there were no insects and I was still f----ed up from the meds.That was exactly what I needed to hear and he was right. 
  • 4205raymond4205raymond Member Posts: 1,472 ✭✭✭

    Had my Mitral valve repair in 2005. They were able to go in the left side as opposed to opening me up. (So I am unable to answer that part of your question.) I was in very good shape overall and came through with flying colors. Was walking unassisted up and down the hall and stairs on 2nd day. I was surprised it was not nearly as bad as was my mind had envisioned. Your wife is young and in good shape, I would think it will be the same for her.

    Went on a multi day backpack trip in the Catskills 4 weeks after surgery.

    Will keep you and your Wife in my thoughts and Prayers.



    Yes, I distinctly remember the two little wires they waited till last to remove. "This might hurt a bit." Geez,....................you think?

    Ken, I think in addition to monitoring your heart they used those little wires  like a temporary pace maker to control your pulse rate? ----------Ray
  • hillbillehillbille Member Posts: 10,857 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2

    Had my Mitral valve repair in 2005. They were able to go in the left side as opposed to opening me up. (So I am unable to answer that part of your question.) I was in very good shape overall and came through with flying colors. Was walking unassisted up and down the hall and stairs on 2nd day. I was surprised it was not nearly as bad as was my mind had envisioned. Your wife is young and in good shape, I would think it will be the same for her.

    Went on a multi day backpack trip in the Catskills 4 weeks after surgery.

    Will keep you and your Wife in my thoughts and Prayers.



    Yes, I distinctly remember the two little wires they waited till last to remove. "This might hurt a bit." Geez,....................you think?

    Ken, I think in addition to monitoring your heart they used those little wires  like a temporary pace maker to control your pulse rate? ----------Ray
    doc told me the wires were for a shock if needed and it would go straight to the muscles in/on the heart , instead of the paddles on the chest........ threatened the wife a time or two if she didn't leave me alone I was gonna pull the wires and blow myself up
  • sxsnufsxsnuf Member Posts: 2,013 ✭✭✭

    My wife has been advised that she may need this surgery in the future. She sustained damage to her heart valve from a "vegetation" caused by MRSA. Her cardiologist gives her bi-annual evaluations, and so far, her condition has remained stable.

    Our thoughts and prayers will be with both of you.

    Keep us updated

    Arrivederci gigi
  • jltrentjltrent Member Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭
    Just another day at the office for a cardiologist.  
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