Recovery 22 Sep – 4 October

Getting home from the hospital was a major milestone, and doing so two days earlier than I had expected was a pleasant surprise. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sleep in my regular bed because of the tight fit of the bed in the room, so I set up my recovery ‘center’ downstairs in my easy chair. Fran quickly took over the nursing duties and kept me very comfortable and attended to my every need. If it weren’t for the post-surgical discomfort, I could get used to this.

The first few days home were pretty uneventful. I had a follow up appointment with the cardiology group and they said that everything looked normal and my numbers were still good. I was a bit concerned about the swelling at the site of the cardiac cath procedure, but the Dr indicated it was normal (it was not, more on this later).

Over the weekend, we got to help out with a TeamNRGY emergency pickup of a teammates bike after a very bad bike accident. That did get us out of the house for a couple of hours, and added some excitement to an otherwise quiet and rather boring week of recovery.

Over the week of the 31st, I started to develop a bit of post nasal drip followed by a cough. The coughing was painful, but relatively non-productive, but the Dr. wanted to see me again, get blood work and X-rays. So off to the clinic again for more labs. Later that afternoon I got in contact with the office and they indicated that the blood work and X-ray were both normal. So I took some OTC meds (Coracidin HBP) and that seemed to help the drip/cough.

Also, by this point I had taken myself off the Tramadol, and was using Alleve liquid-gels 2x per day instead. It seems to work as well as the Tramadol without the opiates.

I also had moved into my regular bed about mid-week. It was a bit tough to sleep completely flat, but over the course of several days I got used to it (mostly). I’m now trying to slowly adjust to sleeping on my side, which is my normal sleep position.

This past week I’ve been going through hot ‘flashes’ that seem to be sort of a sudden increase in metabolism. It’s been happening at night and I wake up really warm and sweaty. I think it’s part of the healing process, as I do get these same events during big build phase of IM training and immediately post IM racing.

The incision point is ever so slowly clearing up. The scabs are falling off (sometimes with some gentle tugging) with clear, pink skin underneath. The very top of the incision is still a bit sensitive. The tightness across the top of my chest (pecs) is loosening up ever so slowly. At this point, any remaining discomfort is isolated to certain spots on my chest, and not systemic across my entire chest and abs.

Last night (Sunday, 4 October) Dr. Dixon, my primary cardiologist called to check in on me after looking at the blood work and X-ray. I explained that I also had concerns about the cardiac cath site. Earlier in the week while I was taking a shower, I noticed that it was oozing pus. I squeezed it and it discharged about 1.5 tbls of pus. It wasn’t sore, or hot to the touch and seem to be mostly solid discharge, sort of like a big zit. Dr. Dixon wanted to see this, so it was back to the office again today (Monday). Both Dr. Dixon and Dr. Rosen, who performed the cath procedure, took a look at the site. They extracted a small bit of gunk out of it, but seemed to feel pretty strongly that it was only a skin infection. Still, I was sent home with script for antibiotics for the next 10 days. The biggest concern of everyone is an infection setting into the annuloplasty ring. That would be very bad, so the antibiotics are a precaution.

Finally, today has been a tougher than normal day. It seems my BP has a tough time catching up when I stand up. It’s been worse than ever today, a couple of times I was wondering if I’d black out completely. Dr. Dixon reduced the Enalapril by 50% (1xday) starting this evening, so we’ll see if that helps at all.

  • Lessons learned this week:
    Patience is everything in post-OHS recovery. This is a long, slow road. It may seem like one step back for every step forward, but you have to take each milestone as a sign of progress (reduction in meds, better quality sleep).
  • The recovery process takes a lot out your general constitution. The hot flashes, and being really hungry, despite lack of activity seems to indicate the the body is in full-on recovery mode.
  • Getting out for walks is a huge benefit for mental as well as physical well being. Just like doing a workout at the end of tough day.

More next week