|Simon - Before & After Surgery
It's now been two weeks and two days since surgery to repair my faulty mitral valve. The actual procedure was called a right side thoracotomy as opposed to the more invasive sternotomy which spreads the sternum down the middle. I wasn't too thrilled to have the standard procedure which required at least 6 weeks for recovery. Today I drove for the first time heading over to Duke to have my incisions looked at and get a post operative talk with my surgeon. Alas...I get over there only to talk to one of his assistants. He pulled out all the sutures and removed any of the tape covering my new scars and now I have a very sensitive right chest making the drive home a little uncomfortable with the seat belt pulling across it. Probably won't be doing too much driving for a week or so.
My surgery might have been less invasive, but in reality I still have 10 incisions that need to heal. The surgery involved some robotic use due to the complexity of the procedure, so there were holes made for various tools. In the previous blog entry, I posted a picture taken by my surgeon of the repaired valve. I have a 35mm annuloplasty band which surrounds the valve and sutures which secure the leaflets or flaps of the valve such that they close completely between beats. Time will tell whether the surgery was a 100% successful as some leakage of the valve is not uncommon even post surgery.
Right now I'm feeling pretty good. I walk 2 or 3 times a day, the longest of which is about 2-1/2 miles. I'm also weaning myself off all the drugs that I have had to take...painkillers last week...diuretics this week and I'm now down to only baby aspirin and a drug to maintain my hearts rhythm. It's not uncommon for heart surgery patients to develop atrial fibrillation, so hopefully I won't encounter that as a problem.
I'm needing more sleep right now and I can't stand up too quickly otherwise I feel like all the blood rushes from my head preceding the possibilty of my blacking out. Obviously I don't want that. My next meeting is with my cardiologist and followed up with 4-6 weeks of heart rehab...probably through the end of July. Hopefully by then I will be back on the bike. :)