Recap: Third Week After Bypass Surgery

IMG_4241I’m continuing with my steady progress after my triple bypass. I’m feeling better and feeling stronger each and every day.

Last Monday was a bust because I had an appointment with my Cardiologist and he didn’t like the appearance of the leg where they took out the vein used from my heart. He was concerned about a possibility of a clot. So instead of spending an hour or two at the hospital I spent most of the day. The preliminary report was there was a small clot in not a vein but a capillary. The Doctor told me to start taking 400mg of Motrin twice a day for two weeks. The following day my Surgeon called with the final report and all was good and told me not to worry about it. Surgeon did say it wouldn’t hurt anything to continue the Motrin if I wanted. So I have continued. The real benefit for me is my right shoulder pain has stopped. I’m hoping once I stop taking the Motrin the pain won’t come back. Oh yeah, and my evening fevers are now gone too.

My sister drove down from Kentucky to spend the week with me. It was nice to have her around and it helped since the wifey is back to work now. I think she was bored most of the time but we had some good times together too. Probably our highlight of the week was going to lunch at TakoSushi and driving to Trenton, SC to get some fresh peaches! WOOWOO! HA!

Wednesday was my final day of having a at-home nurse coming to the house. I’m doing well. All my vitals are good and I can monitor things just fine on my own. It was good to have a nurse around if nothing else so I could compare notes.

June 10th – Sunday

1.94 miles          31:53          16:24 pace

June 11th – Monday

Zip. Zero. Nada!

June 12th – Tuesday

4.01 miles       1:05:49           16:24 pace

June 13th – Wednesday

4.01 miles       1:11:39          18:23 pace

June 14th – Thursday

4.00 miles       1:13:39          18:23 pace

June 15th – Friday

4.01 miles      1:07:30           16:50 pace

June 16th – Saturday

2.5 miles           50:53            20:23 pace

Overall I’m very happy with my results for the week. For the most part I’m walking further and faster. I’m starting to get the itch to run but I know that’s not going to happen for probably another 6-8 weeks at best. I did pick up a few pounds over the week though. Next week I’ve got to start watching my diet a little closer so I stay heart healthy and can lose some more weight.

There you have it. Back in a week or so!

I Was So Wrong!

compare

Just take a moment and compare the results of a run I had just before I found out I needed triple bypass heart surgery and a walk about two and a half weeks after my surgery. Notice there isn’t that much difference between the walking and running pace.

SPOILER ALERT: Just this morning, I went on a brisk walk of about 2.5 miles and my pace was 15:29 per mile. Not running–walking!

I’m trying to figure out when the signs of heart disease first appeared and honestly, I’m starting to think I never will figure it out. I’ll take a stab at it and say it was maybe the fall of 2015 but I really can’t explain to you why that might be the case. Maybe after a few more months or years even things will become clearer. Until recently, I attributed any slowdown in my running performace as just a sign of old age.

Backing off my mileage last summer and then pretty much coming to a complete halt to my running while I fought off a three month respiratory ailment spell certainly confused things. I blamed the layoff, respiratory ailments and some weight gain for the poor performance this year. Now that I’ve had some time to evaluate things with some passage of time it seems to me I WAS SO WRONG!

Yes, all the above contributed to my poorer performance but I can see clearly now it was much more than that. Hindsight is truly 20/20! I should have gone to the doctor much sooner than I did. Thankfully, nothing serious happened before I finally went to the doctor. I wish I had some sage advice for anyone wondering if they are having heart ailments but I can’t. Because of my active lifestyle my body created collateral arteries around my heart to supply blood so the symptoms just were not the same as someone with a sedentary lifestyle. I’m blessed that those extra arteries helped me continue to live a normal active life. The other side of this is had I continued to run without some sort of medical attention I might not be here today posting on this blog.

I’m a survivor! My progress after just three weeks post surgery has really been amazing. The active lifestyle before surgery and after have both allowed me to achieve great results so far. I’m not 100% yet and will be many more weeks from now before I am. People ask me if I feel better now but honestly, I feel about the same as before. I’m not sure when I can run again but I’m expecting some speed boost once I get 8-12 weeks of running behind me. This is when I’ll know if the bypass surgery made a difference. I’m expecting it will!

Two Weeks After CABG

Another week has gone by and I’m seeing improvement everyday of the week. Since my last post I’ve had an appointment with my Cardiologist and he’s happy with my progress. He even told me to go online and look for a race at Kiawah Island, South Carolina that is held sometime in late November or early December because I’ll be ready for it!

Still had a low grade fever in the evenings so they did some blood, urine lab work and a chest x-ray and nothing showed up there. Interesting to note though, I haven’t had a fever the past two days so maybe whatever it was is gone now.

My walking duration and pace have increased quite a bit since when I first got home from the hospital the week before. I’m breathing easier and feeling stronger. My wife has been tagging along with me but I can now go by myself. That’s good because my wife can’t keep up with my pace anymore. I’m not bragging, it’s just how quickly I’m progressing.

Here’s my rundown of walks for week two of open heart surgery recovery and rehab:

June 4th – Monday

2.41 miles          57:09          23:41 pace
1.02 miles          23:45          23:16 pace

June 5th – Tuesday

.34 miles           6:03           17:45 pace (Test conducted by Physical Therapist)
2.40 miles         49:09           20:27 pace

June 6th – Wednesday

1.02 miles         18:41           18:23 pace
1.01 miles         19:53           19:41 pace
1.02 miles         24:32           23:57 pace

June 7th – Thursday

3.14 miles     1:08:49            21:56 pace

June 8th – Friday

1.04 miles       17:30             16:51 pace
1.01 miles       17:30             17:19 pace

June 10th – Saturday

3.89 miles    1:25:12            21:54 pace

June 11th – Sunday

1.94 miles      31:53            16:24 pace

This week’s progress has made me realize how wrong I was about my running performance and health prior to my open heart surgery. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it but I’ll say more about this in my next post.

 

 

Surgeon Follow-up, Home Physical Therapist and Nurse Visit

Monday was a follow-up with my heart surgeon, Tuesday I had an appointment with my home physical therapist and today had an appointment with my home nurse. A busy week so for but all three appointments went very well.

On Monday the stitches where the chest drain holes had been were removed. Mostly painless except the third of three. They had to dig that one out a bit. Ouch! I was also told it will still be four more weeks before I can drive a car. That sucks! I can now wear t-shirts again and I can wash my own hair! Since I’m doing so well I am being referred to Cardio Rehab at the hospital. This wasn’t supposed to happen until sometime in the first part of July. The bad part–since it’s at the hospital someone has to drive me there. We’ll find a way to make it work but it’s one more thing to plan and coordinate.

Tuesday’s visit with the at-home physical therapist went very well. Paul (my PT), had me repeat a test that he had me do last week. The goal is to walk 610 yards in six minutes. Last week, I was able to make it to 396 yard. Still, that was pretty awesome considering I’d only been home two days from the hospital. The results this week were much improved. In the six minutes I covered 650 yards! I graduated and I will no longer need Paul to help me. The Cardio Rehab will replace this work and should be a little more difficult to perform. I’m anxious to get started.

Lisa, my at-home nurse came to the house to check on me. All is fine: BP, pulse, surgical wounds healing nicely. Also, I’ve lost a total of twleve pounds since my surgury! YEAH! I expect the weight loss to continue for a while but I’m sure the pace is about to slow down pretty soon. Lisa gave me the option for her to visit later this week and next but it was my choice. Since my wife is going back to work next week I thought it might be good idea to have Lisa around one more week and then go from there.

Things are looking good. I’m staying positive and focused on healing. Tonight I think I’m going to celebrate a bit and have a glass of wine. Cheers!

First Week of Rehab

The first week of triple bypass heart surgery rehab went very well. I started the week with little expectation other than to do as much possible without straining myself. I have to be honest, while my speed of recovery has been pretty amazing it’s still alot like taking ten steps back from the beginning.

Needed pain meds throughout the week. Those afternoon naps were a must and most nights I was in bed by 9 p.m. and I was ready! My appitite has picked up and I’m eating well but… losing weight too. The diet is high protein, low carb plus no beer, wine or bourbon! 🙂 I lost 8.3 pounds! I wouldn’t recommend triple bypass surgery for weight loss but I knew I needed to lose some weight. Also, the three weeks before the bypass I was eating all kinds of fried fatty foods. What the hell, I couldn’t do anymore damage and new plumbing was on the way so I enjoyed the opportunity.

IMG_4216One thing I’ve really hated about rehab is having to use an incentive spirometer! It’s used to help me strengthen the muscles used to deep breath. Before surgery I was given one to begin practicing. Prior to surgery I was able to measure 3500 mL inspired volume. Immediately after surgery, it was all I could do to get it up to 500! By the end of the week I could consistently measure 1500-1750 mL inspired volume and occasionally reach 2250 mL inspired volume. So I’ve still got quite a way to go before I’m back to pre-surgery levels.

Now, this should give you a hint about the speed of my walks. My outdoor walks are my favorite part of the day but the pace is S-L-O-W!!! Here is a rundown of my walking progress for the week:

May 30th – Wednesday

.50 miles          16:26          32:40 pace
.51 miles          16:29          32:15 pace
.52 miles          13:25          25:53 pace (probably inaccurate GPS readings)

May 31st – Thursday

.86 miles         18:32           21:34 pace (I don’t trust this result either)
.75 miles         19:37           26:10 pace
.74 miles         18:00           24:11 pace

June 1st – Friday

.98 miles         29:04           29:34 pace
.97 miles         29:24           30:21 pace
.98 miles         28:20           28:57 pace

June 2nd – Saturday

2.75 miles    1:17:55          28:22 pace
.97 miles         29:11          30:06 pace

June 3rd – Sunday (Rest Day)

1.02 miles      20:39           20:17 pace

Steady progress for sure. The distance has been steadily increasing and the pace is gradually improving too. For week two, I plan to build on my base. I hope to increase my pace some but the focus will remain to keep it easy.

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!