One Week After Triple Bypass Surgery

Well… I survived the surgery. Thank God! I’m a few hours short of seven days since I first woke up in ICU. I’m still under the influence of pain medication so this post will be short.

I’ve improved everyday since the surgery. The doctors, nurses, and therapist have all told me they are amazed by my progress. I don’t know how truthful they are but after having so many people tell me how well I’m doing–I’m believeing it. On the day of surgery they rushed me through prep thinking I was going to go in early. In the end though, it ended up being about 90 minutes or more later than scheduled. After surgery, I woke up in ICU at 9 p.m. and by 6 a.m. the next day they were ready to move me to the Cardio Vascualar wing. I heard this is incredibily quick. It turned out though that I stayed in ICU until about 6:30 in the evening because they didn’t have a room available for me.

The first couple of days were painful! So tired. So weak. I had gone about a day and a half without food so I ate the first meal completely but after that, it took a lot of effort to eat anything. They have you up and moving pretty quickly and I didn’t mind that part but getting in and out of bed really hurt.

I think I overachieved a bit on day one after surgery so on day two I was feeling the effects. Extremely tired and it didn’t take long for me to be short of breath. Day two in the hospital was probably the hardest of them all. There are some things about undergoing CABG that cannot be described. It’s kinda like basic training in the military–until you do it, you really don’t know what it’s like.

On Sunday, I think my surgeon would have let me go home if I could have managed a bowel movement. I’m not sure but I think it would have been the shortest stay after Triple Bypass known to anyone at the hospital. By then, I was walking 1500 feet at each walk and did this at least three times during the day. This is the day they told me I didn’t have to eat hospital food and not only that I could eat ANYTHING I want. I’ve never tasted a McDonald’s cheeseburger that ever tasted better! This became my staple food for the rest of my stay in the hospital.

Between midnight and 8:00 a.m. on Monday I walked two sessions of 3000 feet. Thanks to some extra help of meds I had several bowel movements since the day prior. Now, the walking distances I’m telling you about may not seem impressive but their expectation of patients in recovery is three laps of 500 per day. Before my 10 a.m. release on Monday I had two six lap sessions! Yes, when I finish I’m breathing a little hard but not gasping for air and I recovered from each walk pretty quickly. I didn’t actually measure it but I’d say within two minutes I was breathing normal again. Heart rate never exceeded the low 100’s and was usually in the high ninties.

I was home before lunch on Monday and I was so ready to take a shower in my own home! I was still sore and stiff but much improved from Friday and Saturday. I can’t raise my arms over my head so I still need help in the shower. My wife has taken the next two weeks off since I can’t be left alone and she’s a trooper. I have my moments and I can be a real crab sometimes but she puts up with me. 🙂 I was looking forward to getting into a routine but it hasn’t quite happened yet. On Tuesday I had my first visit with a Home Care Nurse and on Wednesday I had a visit from a physical therapist. My follow-up with the surgery got moved up so now the Home Care Nurse is coming back today to check on me and to draw blood for tests the Surgeon needs at my follow-up.

I would call Wednesday the first day of my next training phase. I expect this cycle will run until the end of August at least and will consist of mostly walking my way back up to running again. Probably sometime in July I’ll begin Cardio Rehab which will consist of some exercises and light weights to help my build up my strength.

There you have it. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone for sure but I’m oh so grateful that my recovery is starting out so well. I’ve been warned to expect some depression to sink in at some point so I’ll be on the lookout for that. I have been overwhelmed with love, support, encouragement from so many friends and family. I’m very blessed and thank God for everything he has given me.

I’ll try to post again sometime during the first part of next week so you’ll have an update on my recovery/walking results. Thanks for reading!

 

CABG Day!

In about and hour and a half it will be time to head to the University Hospital in Augusta for my coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG). If things stay on time, my surgery begins at 12:30 p.m. EST.

Haven’t had much sleep in the past few days but I suppose I’ll have plenty of time to catch up in the next 4-6 days in the hospital for recovery. At the moment, I’m not too worried. It’s out of my hands now and nothing I can do other than hope and pray for the best.

I didn’t go to bed until midnight last night hoping it would allow me to sleep in a bit. It also gave me a chance for a late night snack and a final drink of water. It didn’t matter. I was awake by 4:30 and I got up out of the bed about an hour later. Now I just waiting on everyone to wake up so I can start packing up my things.

Unless you read this blog I’ve kept this surgery kinda under wraps. Yet, I’ve received many phone calls, txt messages, and emails wishing the best and praying for me. Word does spread and I really appreciate everyone’s support.

Well, it’s time for me to start packing things up. Wish me the best. You’ll hear from me again soon!

Keeping Busy

The past two weeks have been very busy. My daughter and two grandsons living in Okinawa came to visit before my scheduled surgery and my wife and I flew to Indiana to see our first grandson graduate from high school. Thankfully, no anxiety for this trip. Changing the dose of the beta blocker has worked great.

IMG_4187We had a wonderful time and I’m so proud of my grandson. While we were there we got to see him run hurdles for his track team in the sectional and he has qualified for the regionals next Thursday. Wish I could be there but I’ll probably still be in intensive care and it will probably a day later before my mind is clear enough to know how he does.

All of the extra visitors in the house and travelling have me feeling a bit tired. The advantage is it has also kept me busy enough I’m not sitting around thinking about the open heart surgery scheduled for this week.

Speaking of open heart surgery: I got a call from my surgeon this morning to tell me I had been bumped back to Wednesday afternoon but there was also a chance I could get bumped again for Thursday morning. Guess what? I’ve been bumped to Thursday morning now.

I’m Ok with it really. I am ready to get this over with but I also realize there are others needing the same surgery and in much worse shape than me. I’m gratful I am otherwise healthy and I will be praying for those who are the reason I’ve been bumped back. I had hoped to be home on Sunday. I knew it was a long shot but I was hoping I’d be home in time to watch the Indy 500 from the comfort of my home. With the delay it looks like Monday (Memorial Day) will be the soonest I’ll be home.

Another plus is my daughter (the mother of my graduating grandson) is flying here tomorrow and with the delay this will give us some extra bonding time before my surgery. We tried over the weekend but with the graduation activities going on there wasn’t alot of opportunity. We did what we could.

I’m not sure when I’ll post to the blog again. I don’t think it will be before the surgery so it will depend on how I feel afterwards. We’ll just have to wait and see but I hope to post again over the weekend.

I Think it was the Meds

th

A week ago I was going crazy with feelings of anxiety that would just come out of nowhere. I really hated missing my trip to Indiana for the Mini Marathon and getting to see alot of my family members but I wasn’t sure how I could control the anxiety so I bailed on the trip.

Really, the only thing that has changed recently was my medication for high blood pressure. About two weeks ago my cardiologist prescribed a beta blocker and it wasn’t too long after that I started having the anxiety.

Anyway, I decided on my own to cut my beta blocker medication in half to see what would happen. Yep, without my doctors permission. I’m already watching my heart rate and blood pressure closely so if this change would have a significant effect I would know pretty quickly. On the very first day I noticed the feelings of anxiety weren’t as bad. Now, this was on Saturday, the day of the Mini Marathon. By Wednesday, I was feeling more like myself again and the anxiety was pretty much gone. My heart rate and blood pressure did go up slightly but not at a level to be terribly concerned anyway.

I’m not going to speculate why this worked. I Googled and Binged all over the place trying to find information. All I found was a posting on some website from 2010 from a guy who was having the same thing happening once he started taking beta blockers. The post didn’t say if he did anything to correct it. It just so happens he was a runner too! All I can figure is the dosage was causing my pulse to go too low and then my body started reacting to tell me something wasn’t right. I did record HR’s in the very low 50’s several times. If I had been in top physical shape when all of this started, maybe low 50’s would be fine for me. I know I’m in decent physical shape but no where near top form. From what I read, low 50’s are very low. So maybe that is it?

That’s when I shot off an email to my cardiologist to tell him what I had done. I don’t know what I would have done if he told me I was crazy and get my dose back up to the prescribed level but thankfully, he didn’t. He gave me the OK to continue at the reduced dosage. Yeah!!!

I’m still having nervous reactions to any little ache or pain I get. Especially in the chest, neck, arm but I guess that’s probably normal for most people knowing they will be going through open heart surgery in a few weeks. For the most part, I don’t feel any different than I did two weeks ago or even two months ago. I’m a little bored because I can’t do much other than sit around. That probably doesn’t help with keeping the bad stuff off my mind either. I’m hangin’ tough and just living on day at a time.

I guess the moral of this story is, it’s good to know your body and to listen to what your body is telling you. Even more important, follow your body’s orders!

Anxiety: You Suck!

IMG_4035For the past few days, I’ve been getting what I would call minor anxiety attacks. They seem to really come out of nowhere and for no reason. Well, that’s not quite right. There is a reason: coronary artery disease.

The attacks started the first part of the week and have become more frequent as the week goes by. I mentioned them to my doctor the other day and he told me it’s natural and he didn’t seem overly concerned about. The worse attacks have happened in the middle of the night and have been keeping me up for an hour or two.

Yesterday, I got two attacks at work. One at lunch time and another as I was leaving work to go home. By yesterday afternoon I was having doubts about going to Indiana for the Indy 500 mini marathon and then going on to visit family in Muncie Indiana. On my drive home from work I called my wife to talk about it with her. Of course, she was supportive but in the end it was my decision. Once I got home, I called my son-in-law to talk to him about it. My daughter and he are meeting me in Indy because the original intention was all three of us would run the mini marathon. He too was supportive. It wasn’t too much longer after that I got a call from my daughter and we talked about it some more. She told me to go with your gut. Before the end of our conversation I did just that and decided to cancel the trip.

I went online to start canceling as many reservations as I could. I was able to cancel the motel reservations in Indianapolis and the car rental for the trip, but I couldn’t cancel the motel reservation in Muncie. And of course there was no way to cancel the flight reservation.

At this very moment, my clock says it’s 7 AM on Friday morning. The exact time my flight was to take off on its first leg to Indianapolis. I slept through the night without a single anxiety attack. I’m disappointed. I was looking forward to hanging out with my daughter and her family, visiting my family in Muncie and seeing a few friends from my high school days. Oh, and eating Pizza King pizza. If you ever lived in the Muncie Indiana area you know what I’m talking about. But…  once I get through the surgery I will have other opportunities. I know that but it doesn’t make it any easier. It’s not easy but I have to take this one day at a time. This too shall pass.

Drats! Another Change of Plans

In my last post I said I plan to walk the Indy 500 Mini Marathon on Saturday, well… my heart surgeon OK’d it but today I had to go for a follow-up with my Cardiologist and he put a nix to it. He told me it’s fine for me to travel but I should do nothing to exert myself. The way he talked I shouldn’t walk anymore than absolutely necessary. Now, I’ve been walking 3-5 miles a day since all of this started! He told me he would rather I hang out at Hooters, drinking beer and looking at the ladies than doing any walking. I have to admit I did laugh at that one.

I’m not happy about it to say the least. My wife is happy to hear this and I haven’t told all of my kids yet but I’m pretty sure their opinion will be the same. The kids that would actually read this blog already know. The others will find out later this evening.

So now, I’ll be flying to Indy to pickup my race packet and number but after that I’ll just be a spectator. This really stinks. My Cardiologist did tell me he thought by August or September I could start running again so if I wanted to sign up for a race later in the year to go for it! I was happy to hear that news but I think I’ll wait until I can actually run again and then decide where to go from there.

If there is anyone reading this that will be running the Mini Marathon, best of luck to you. Maybe I’ll wave you through the finish line.