It has been 2.5 weeks since my surgery. Each day I feel better in some ways, and worse in others. One highlight of week 2 was going to dog beach in Huntington, CA with my buddy Yousseff and our dogs. Walking on the sand was actually pretty hard!
My heart and lungs are doing great. Last week I would notice my heart working hard when I would bend over to do tasks like unplugging a computer cord from an outlet. I do not get that feeling any more. My lung capacity has improved greatly since week one. My walks are getting much easier. I haven’t really been pushing the miles or breaking any records with my walks, but I’ve been consistent.
All of my issues have to do with muscle pain related to my cut sternum and incision. It seems like each day I have a new pain. These pains all exist somewhere on my chest or back. The body is healing, and pain is a sign that things are getting better. Lately, the worst of the pain has been in my lower back. My muscles must be very inflamed, because yesterday during lunch, when I was swallowing my food, I could feel my food going down my esophagus, and it activated my back pain as it went down. One issue with this pain is that it often wakes me up in the night. Getting back to sleep usually isn’t too hard, but sometimes it keeps me up. I think that lying flat in bed might be irritating some of the pain.
My blood pressure has been very low due to my medication (beta blocker & ace-inhibiter). I took my BP just now and it read 93/71. The purpose of the medications are to lower the BP (and heart rate) so that the recovering heart does not have to work as hard. One side effect of such low BP, is that when I stand up I can get quite light headed and dizzy for a moment. Luckily, I will probably only be on these meds for about 3 months.
My heart rate has been getting lower, which is a good thing. The week of my surgery, My pulse was over 95, often over 100 beats per minute. Last week my resting heart rate lowered to 88-93 BPM. Now, my resting HR is anywhere from 73-85 BPM. This makes my very happy, because many open heart surgery patients have very high heart rates (sometimes over 110) for weeks or months after their surgeries.
I have to mention how happy I am with my medical team. My cardiologist, who I’ve been going to since 2011, has always shown patience and concern over my condition. She never rushes me out the door and always answers all of my questions in detail. She is also very pleasant to talk to. My cardiac surgeon is a rock star. At the hospital, all of the nurses and doctors had amazing things to say about him. His bedside manner is terse and matter-of-fact, but to me that shows his high level of confidence and experience in his field. My primary physician has also been great. I had an issue the other day that required me to get an after hours CT-Scan, and he read the results from his home and called me from his cel phone to discuss the results (The results were negative: no fluid in chest cavity and no blood clot in lungs). So, if anyone in the Redlands, CA area needs a recommendation for a primary physician, cardiologist, or surgeon (in the Kaiser Permanente health system) let me know; I’ve got names.