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British Heart Foundation
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Just joined the site - I had an aortic valve replacement on August 23rd and found comments on here helpful - now reading to get advice on recovery etc. and hope to be able to help others with what to expect - although we are all different!

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Wish you a speedy recovery

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Hi Steve, welcome to the forum. There are a few threads on recovery, on exercise and how people are getting on. Hopefully yours is going well

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Hi Stevegg

I had Aortic Value replacement on the 3rd August 2017. Recovery has had it's up & downs, physically it's not been to bad, I'd say more uncomfortable than painful, but psychologically it's been harder, I didn't expect the emotions and mood swings to be so intense, one day I'd be fine the next crying for no reason, snapping at people and feeling very frustrated.

I was being told by many that " you will feel like a new woman, so much energy " I know I only had it done 8 weeks this Thursday, but I wish this new woman would hurry and turn up lol.

Are you wearing a posthorax vest, not the most comfortable but great protection especially when sneezing and it definitely helps your sternum heal. I've been very good and worn mine all the time, I've just undone it when I've been sitting watching tv, I have found in the last week it started to feel more uncomfortable when sleeping and I was waking up 2/3 times so I had to wash it and dried it over night, I slept really well so now I take it off when I'm in bed.

I've had 1 chest infection, which cleared up really quick, and the main drainage hole still has not closed up, but it's getting there and is not infected. I've come off some of the meds and lowered the doseage on the statins, my scar is practically invisible. I drove my car at 6wks no pain but felt a little vulnerable so going to wait till my sternum is fully healed, and the same with going out solo at the mo feel safer when I'm with someone.

I'm waiting to start rehab, hoping to hear in the next week, I'm quite looking forward to that. I am very fortunate to have a fantastic GP, who have been very supportive and if I have any worries will see me straight away, as for the hospital I feel abandoned, I've only seen the cardio rehab nurse once, they told me that they would call me every few weeks to update them on my meds and recovery or for me to call them, I've never heard from them and when I've phoned to update them on change of meds etc been told they will call back no one ever has, When I asked when would I see my cardiologist told they didn't know. I'm not knocking the NHS they were marvellous for the 3 weeks I was in, but there are questions I have now, like when is it safe for me to stop wearing the vest, in the books it says 8 to 12 weeks and other things, to be reassured really that's it's all going to plan.

So I wish you a speedy recovery, I'm sure we will all come out the other side feeling like brand new, but just have to resign ourselfs that it will be a longer Road than we envisage, after all it's been a massive thing we have been through, and by understanding the way we feel emotionally and explaining these feelings to our nearest and dearest who have also been through a traumatic experience we can support each other with greater understanding. So I'll leave you in peace and once again wish you well

❤️❤️❤️❤️

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Thanks for your reply, my recovery so far seems to be going OK. I was only in hospital for 5 days before being discharged and generally feel fairly good - chest is still fairly painful - indeed more so than it was immediately after the surgery.

I don't have a posthorax vest - I believe this is usually only given to women.

Its reassuring to read other people's experiences as you realise you are not the only one going through the experience.

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Glad your recovery is going well, and it's a shame you weren't given a posthorax vest both woman and men are given them, but I suppose it depends where you are in the UK. Did they show you how to make a towel teddy , get a med size towel and roll it like a sausage use microbore tape to keep it in place, can hold it length ways down the middle of your chest fold your arms over it like hugging, helps support you when your moving or coughing , sneezing.

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Thanks for your suggestion - I was advised to use a pillow in a similar manner - most movements etc. are OK now, its just sneezing that is a bit painful - I will try the towel/pillow, providing I have it near at hand!

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Thanks Stevegg. I'm waiting for a date for my AVR, so I'll be reading your replies with interest. However, I do get the feeling that it's mostly those having problems that post on here. I'm optimistic that there are also lots of people who have sailed through, and pray I'll be one of those.

Best of luck for your recovery.

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It may be a good idea to encourage people to post 'good' recovery stories as well, but perhaps people are worried at tempting fate?

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Probably if people are recovering well, they're busy enjoying themselves and not seeking advice. Lucky them! :) I'm the opposite - when things were going really badly for me, I didn't want to "socialise" with the heart gang, but kept it all to myself. Now that I feel more positive, I like hanging out here and chatting to others, whether they're having a great time or a tough one. It helps me see some positives in my condition if I can use my experiences to reassure others who may be going through similar.

I love hearing from people who are doing well too and agree it's important to share the positives on the forum, as well as our worries. There's a great post here about long-term outcomes for anyone who needs a boost - healthunlocked.com/bhf/post...

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Yes I agree the gang are a great comfort in times of need. So keep it up everyone, but please continue to blog when you feel better to give us all hope. Thanks

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Welcome and wish u a very speedy recovery. Talking about sneezing has brought it all back to me when I had my aortic valve replaced in June 2012. I dreaded the sneezing thankfully having had the surgery during my hay fever season I only remember sneezing once ! Phew! I feel your pain though. I remember the pressure more than pain in the chest. Like someone had their foot on it , especially if I tried to lay down. I ended up sleeping upright for nearly 11weeks. That helped, I did used to slump down but wasn't anywhere near as uncomfortable as trying to lay down. Don't push yourself either to get back to full fitness , it will happen and you will notice u can do more than ever! It's a great feeling! We are so lucky to be able to receive such good care in medicine these days. :-) all the very best

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Hi Steve, what sort of valve did you have.I had a quad bypass and mechanical aortic valve.Its a difficult choice ,the only problem i have is the ticking at bedtime.Anoying if i sleep on one side.Early days you had to be near a cushion or pillow in case you sneeze. best wishes John.

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Hi John, Thanks for your message - I had a biological (bovine) aortic valve replacement - adviside by the cardiologist that that avoided taking warfarin and lots of blood tests although I know it is only likely to last 10 - 15 years but as I'm 64 I suppose that may be less of a consideration! Nearly 6 weeks after the surgery and I'm feeling pretty good - get a bit breathless after walking up hills and still a bit painful sneezing but all seems to be getting easier.

Regards, Steve

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Yes my cardiologist recommended the same to me. I'm 66. He said that by the time it needs replacing the technology will have improved so it may not be such a big op. I was comforted by your post. I've not got a date yet, so obviously anxious about the recovery period. Thanks and best wishes. Margaret

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