I haven’t posted on here in quite some time. I started this blog originally as a way to process my feelings throughout my heart surgery journey. I blogged leading up my first aortic valve replacement in Nov 2013, to endocarditis infection & complete re-do valve replacement in March 2014, and the recovery afterwards. I continued to post after a minor (but potentially fatal) clot complication in the fall of 2016.
I still receive emails from folks who find my blog and seek connection while they go through their Valve Replacement OHS experience.
COVID-19 is currently shutting the world down. I live in San Francisco, California, and we are now sheltering in place. Practicing extreme social distancing during this time. I have talked to a few new valvers who have just gone through, or who are planned to go through valve replacement amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sheltering in place place and fear of unknown infection adds additional stress to heart valve replacement (and other congenital heart disease) patients.
I cannot give medical advice, but I can speak from my own experiences. This advice may not apply to everyone who is recovering from valve replacement, but I hope that it can help some.
- Try your best to follow your rehabilitation program. If you are supposed to be following a physical rehab plan but cannot leave the house, there are options that you can do at home: if you cannot go for walks, look up some home cardio workouts on youtube like this one. There are plenty of exercises that you can do from home that get the heart moving, which you can always do at your own pace.
- Yoga was a centerpiece of my recovery. Moving on the mat helped with my confidence. It helped me feel less fragile and gain strength after the jarring OHS experience. If you can’t leave the house, try finding some yoga routines on youtube to follow. For someone right out of the gates of OHS, check out this yoga routine ‘yoga after disaster‘ to calm the mind and body.
- When I was recovering from heart surgery, having a schedule of activities kept me sane. I would walk to the coffee shop every morning to socialize with friends. Don’t forget to set your alarm, take a shower, drink water, take your medications, and use your mind and body within your limitations. Try to stick to your regular schedule as best you can.
- Make time to call your loved ones if you are isolated from them. Recovery from OHS can feel lonely and depression is common (I went through it too). Connecting with friends and family will help. Please, do not demand that they understand your situation. When talking with post OHS patients, I see a lot of people frustrated that their friends and family do not understand how they feel. It is true: THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND. They will not ever understand. In a way, it is unfair to demand that they must understand your situation. INSTEAD: If they try to give you advice or make comments that you feel like are not helpful, tell them politely that you just want to vent and that they do not have to give you a solution. Sometimes all you need is an a friend who will listen.