The magical week 6 is approaching (monday, January 6th will be 6 weeks from my open heart surgery). The doctors tell us Heart-Valvers that 6 weeks is the first big milestone in recovery. Though the sternum is probably not 100% healed and fused yet, a great deal of the healing is done by week 6. I have to say that my recovery has been amazing. At about 4.5 weeks, i felt like what I imagined I should feel like by week 6.
I haven’t posted on this blog since 2.5 weeks after surgery! I am such a slacker. Here is a rundown of my progress:
3 weeks (after surgery): My parents left and flew back home. I could not have done this without them. They stayed with me that whole time, and cared for me. My roomates even enjoyed their company (and my Dad’s cooking). I get emotional thinking about how much they helped me during those first critical weeks after OHS. I continued my walking regiment. I began to experience (what I thought were) heart arrhythmia episodes. They felt like palpitations, but lasted anywhere from 30 seconds- 10 minutes at a time. They occurred during different times, but weirdly occurred whenever I laid down. I would later wear a 24-hour halter monitor, which is basically an EKG recorder that you carry with you all day/night. The results revealed that I was NOT experiencing any dangerous rhythm problems, but ‘Skipped Beats’ or PVC’s (premature ventricular contractions), which are normal after OHS and not dangerous.
4 weeks: I broke the no-driving rule. I went to one session of cardiac rehab, which included treadmill walking and slow stationary biking. It was super slow, but they gave me permission to exercise on my own at home, as long as I kept my heart rate under 120 BPM. I immediately reopened my membership at the YMCA and have been jogging, stair-machining, and stationary biking for 45 minutes per day. I have even begun to use the abdominal and lower back lifting machines (very light weight). Doing this exercise has greatly improved my mood. I went to one yoga class. The class a step above beginner, therefore a bit hard for me in my current state. Luckily, in yoga, one is encouraged to ease back if things get too hard. Next time I will attend the beginner’s class. The good news: That one yoga class practically eliminated all of my back pain. I have been getting my blood tested weekly to measure my INR levels (a measure of my anticoagulation treatment), which have been consistently too low. Many people who go on this type of treatment report that it took them months to get their INR levels in their blood up to the acceptable range, and keep it there.
5 weeks: I went on a New Years/ 1 year relationship anniversary trip with my girlfriend to Death Valley National Park. Our anniversary is conveniently on 12:00AM on January 1st. I realized that a decent chunk (July-November) of our 1 year relationship, I have been focusing allot of my energy preparing for open heart surgery. The rest of the year has been recovery. Natalie has been the most supportive and caring person I could hope to have during that time. In Death Valley, we went off-roading and hiked up steep hills and sand dunes, without any problems! I felt great. I was hardly winded while hiking. My PVC’s have diminished significantly, and I expect them to practically go away completely in weeks/months.
Next week, 6 weeks: I expect to begin my weight lifting regiment, and increase my cardio. I will still be easing into these exercise with caution. My weight lifting will focus on isolated muscles without putting stress on my sternum. I am still not ready for pull-ups or push-ups. I also go back to work on monday. I can’t wait to see my students again and get back into the swing of things!
HAPPY NEW YEAR! 😀