British Heart Foundation
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Hello Heart Warriors, I’m Home!

Hello Heart Warriors, I’m Home!

After seventeen days in hospital, fifteen post op I finally made it home on Saturday.

Well, that was an experience, I am thinking of designing a new board game titled Grandma’s Heart Surgery.

I was in theatre for nearly nine hours as my surgeon tried three times to repair my mitral valve, each time restarting my heart to test the repair. It was to no avail and so a mechanical valve was inserted as agreed pre-op. Seemingly my valve had some rheumatic damage (confirming that I had rheumatic fever as a child), also one of the mitral flaps had a very wavy edge instead of being a smooth curve; a congenital defect. The four other procedures were carried out.

Forty-eight hours in ICU were not very pleasant, nausea, sickness, extremely sensitive sense of taste and smell and wierd dreams. Fortunately it went by quite quickly and I was very sluggish. I found the strong pain killing drugs were the worse for making me ill so forty-eight hours post op decided to only take paracetamol. I did have some pain particularly as the paracetamol wore off but managed to control it with some breathing techniques etc. I will write about this in ‘my tips’ further on. I think you always need to feel some pain so that you can tell if you are doing something that is damaging the healing.

Three days in HDU began with my body reacting differently than most to the anaesthetic and morphine, let’s just say I didn’t need laxatives! At the same time I had put on twelve kilos with fluid retention. I could hardly breath or move and so the poor nursing angels had to do everything for me. Once the intravenous diuretic got working the fluid started to come off and I became mobile. Lost two or three kilos a day, I have never lost weight so quickly. I wouldn’t recommend that particular diet regime though. My pacing wires were left in for as long as possible to allow my heart to remain in sinus rhythm and were removed day five post op and a day after the chest drains. I didn’t find having any of them out particularly unpleasant, the little sensation I did feel was short lived and being free of them was bliss.

Still suffering with the trots, I was moved to a room on the ward. Another step in the right direction. Shortly after returning to the ward my heart went into Afib, back to theatre for a cardioversion, unfortunately it didn’t work so going to be reviewed in three months. Chest X-ray showing fluid around lungs so kept on strong diuretics. Next came an increase in my white blood cell count, normal is ten mine had risen to fifteeen, every possible bodily fluid was tested for infection, all negative. They didn’t take any chances so had me back on intravenous antibiotics. Having had mitral valve surgery there is a slight risk of Endocarditis, an infection that attacks the wall of the heart. Slowly my white blood cell count came down and was switched to oral antibiotics, first box✔️. Second chest X-ray showed that the fluid around my lungs had reduced but still not good enough to go home. Came off intravenous anticoagulant and started Warfarin, my INR reading needed to be stable at between three and four before I could go home. Chest X-ray on Friday showed quite an improvement, still a small amount of fluid but happy for me to go home on strong diuretics, another box✔️. Blood test showed good INR reading, last box✔️. Yippee, I could go home.

This is not a scare story but one that reveals how resilient the human body and spirit are. It is a tribute to the skill and dedication of the surgeon and his team; and the compassionate care of the nursing angels.

Each one of us is different, everybody reacts differently, we all have complex heart issues unique to us but we all get through it with the skills of the professionals and by supporting one another.

My tips are:

Practice these thoughts - ‘this too will pass’; ‘just for today’; or even ‘just for this hour’; ‘today is the tomorrow I worried about yesterday’.

Not sure the menfolk will like this, take in copious amounts of 100% pure lavender oil and splash it on your huggy. It will aid breathing and help you to relax. I also used breathing exercises and meditated whilst listening to soft, relaxing music.

Weeks before surgery massage the incision site with bio oil twice daily to prepare your skin. My scar is looking pretty good already, half the stitches have dissolved.A big thank you to all my heart chums for keeping me in your thoughts, it was good to know you were rooting for me.

Now then, let’s get cracking designing my new board game, you never know it could be a best seller next Christmas, especially if the winner gets a copy of my heart surgery video - yes my surgeon is preparing one for me as promised.

The photo was taken as I left hospital, not bad?

Lots of love,

Dory xxx❤️💕❣️

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Hello Dory, welcome back and you look fabulous, so aside from all the major issues I'm very glad to see you back. Onwards and upwards

Take care

Mark

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Thank you Mark, good to be home x

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So good to hear from you, Dory! You are looking fantastic! Take care of yourself and stay in touch now you are finally home. Hope you get the video in time for Christmas, will look forward to the board game for Christmas 2018 ;) Loads of love xxxxxx

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Thank you Laura,

Am I pleased I did all the Christa s preparations beforehand, I can sit and relax and watch everyone else dashing about like the proverbial! My hairdressing is coming today so will feel even better.

Take care,

Lots of love,

Dory xxx❤️💕❣️

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Great to see you back Dory. I must admit I was worried about you. But pleased to see you are looking and feeling so well.

Thank you for sharing your journey through your hospital stay and operation. You stay positive, gentle little steps.

Wow, a video, though I would be like you. Good luck with the board game, 2018 is your year! Love Rie xx

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Hi Rie,

It is good to be back and to know that so many were rooting for me. Just had my hair cut and coloured at home so feeling more like me.

Hope all is going well for you.

Love, Dory x💕

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I find having my hair done always makes me feel better, brightens me up.

Really pleased you are doing so well Dory. You take care my lovely xx

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Thank you Rie, you take care too xx💕

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Hiya great to see you back, and looking great considering what you have been through, it sounds horrific, I hope you continue to improve, keep us posted, lots of hugs char xx

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Thank you Char for your best wishes, so good to be out the other side and recuperating at home. Am I pleased I did all my Christmas preparations before hand, I can sit back and watch everyone else chasing round like the proverbial!

Hope you are doing OK.

With love, Dory x💕

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Hi, icd was changed to the 22nd Dec boohoo,I will be glad to get it done, but it's so near Xmas 😭 I am loading the freezer now, got 6 coming for dins including my 88 year old mum, not sure how this is going to work out!! 🎄🎅🦃 xx

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Oh dear Char, that is cutting it a bit fine, however, you may find you feel much better to cope with Christmas.

Delegate as much as possible.

We are having our family gathering on Boxing Day, my husband and I have decided to have a quiet Christmas Day. Like you, everything is ready in the freezer. There will be eleven of us. I will be doing nothing!

Hope all goes well on 22nd, keep me posted.

Dory xx💕

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Good morning Dory, so good to hear from you and to hear that despite all your setbacks you are still so positive. Get plenty of rest, your body has been through a lot and you need to take time to recover. You look great as you left hospital.

Keep us posted when you feel up to it.

Best wishes

Annette

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Thank you Annette, it is so good to be home with Boris at my feet.

I thought he would go mad when he saw me instead he just gently sat beside me on the sofa, bless him.

Thank you for messaging me this morning, it has taken time to write my post as my brain soon tires. My handwriting is like spider crawl too.

Hope you are doing OK.

Lots of love, Dory x💕

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Hi Dory

So pleased to hear you're ok and on the road to recovery. Was getting worried about you.

It's amazing what they can do these days isn't it. I was in for a few days longer than planned because I ended up having a pacemaker fitted. My surgeons went down the line of my previous scar for the AVR and that is already looking good. I also had a slight chest infection whilst in hospital so was on intravenous antibiotics, now just back on my normal antibiotic that I'm on following my splenectomy.

I'm off to anticoagulant clinic this afternoon for lesson on using my home testing machine- will make monitoring my INR levels easier once I'm back at work, just need to do the test, ring the clinic and they let me know what dosage of warfarin to take.

Keep us updated on your recovery.

Wendy xx 💖

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Thank you Wendy,

Good to hear you are now on the road to recovery, sounds like you had a few set backs too.

I’m interested to hear that you will be able to use a home testing kit so soon. Did you buy it via the hospital or did you have to source it yourself? I obviously want to go down this route so that I can go back and forth to Swanage when I like.

I hope you continue to recover well.

Lots of love, Dory xx💕

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My anticoagulation clinic supports home testing so got the clinic no from them and then bought it online from coaguchek.com. My surgery doesn't supply the test strips on prescription due to budget constraints, but that varies from practice to practice so worthwhile checking with your GP. The machine itself was £299 (had £100 off but not sure for how long) and it comes with some lancets, lancet pen, 6 test strips and a carrying bag to keep them all in. The strips are quite expensive, £69.24 for 24. If you're on warfarin for life you won't have to pay VAT either.

Nurse at clinic went through the testing procedure and checked it against theirs, so now up and runnng. It's ever so easy to use and gives you the freedom to have holidays etc without worrying about testing. Just test, ring the clinic with reading and nurse rings back with new dose, write it up in your yellow booklet and away you go 😸.

Let me know if you need more info.

Take care.

Love Wendy 💖

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Thank you so much for all the information, bit unfair that it is a bit of a lottery when it comes to getting strips on NHS.

I have a test at the clinic tomorrow so will ask about home testing.

So pleased you got on so well with doing your own test. Onwards and upwards!

With love, Dory xxx💕

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Hi Wendy,

We are investigating home testing machines. The one I have been told to look at by Harefield is Coaguchek IN range, the one my local hospital has named is Coaguchek XS pro.

Which one have you got and where did you get it?

Hope you don’t mind me asking

Dory xxx💕

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Hi Dory

I've got the Coaguchek IN Range. Bought it direct from shop.coaguchek.com. They also have a help desk if you have any problems and my clinic said they are very good. The pack comes with the machine, a lancet pen, a supply of lancets, a pack of 6 test strips, a carry bag and a DVD. Nigel has bought me a different lancet pen and lancets (Accu-chek) as they were cheaper. If you order it make sure you click on the bit so that you aren't charged VAT - we're exempt! 😸

It's really easy to use and stores your readings so the clinic can look at them if they need to.

Let me know if you need any more info.

Wendy xx

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Thank you so much Wendy. Bless you, very useful information.

With love,

Dory xxx💕

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Well done to you Dory for being so positive and for sharing your tips. Glad you are now back at home and on the mend.

Joan x

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Thank you very much Joan, so pleased to be home x

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Great post Dory. Really enjoyed reading it.

Extremely glad your back at home. Great picture, very pretty.

I wish you all the best in your recovery.

Cheers

Nick

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Thank you Nick, glad you enjoyed my waffle.

So pleased to be back, brain gets tired quickly so can’t do too much concentrating but other than that I’m on the up!

Hope you are doing OK

Dory x

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It was a very interesting read Dory. You should be a writer.

Your concentration will slowly return. I read on the NHS website that this can sometimes be affected after Surgey.

I think its great you are getting a video of the Surgery. I wish I could of had one for one I had mine.

Cheers

Nick

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Thank you Nick for you lovely comments and for reassuring me regarding my fuzzy brain. Hopefully, normal service will resume soon, whatever that is!

I nagged for the video! I see my surgeon on 19th when the memory stick should be ready for collection.

All the best,

Dory x

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No worries Dory. Hope you enjoy the video. Its not every day we get to see our insides :-). Not for everyone but i find it very interesting.

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I’m looking forward to seeing it and to wonder at the skill of the surgeon x

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Wow looking good Dory,

So good to have you back.

Kaz💖💕❤️

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Thank you Kaz,

It’s good to be back, just had another night’s sleep in Gerry (geriatric electric recliner), can’t recommend it enough.

Hope you are doing OK

Dory x💕

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I spent my 1st week home in my Gerry with Bobby my body pillow and Vera my V pillow.

Glad your getting good nights sleep 😴 helps so much with recovery. I’m doing ok heart wise, the depression has lifted a little ,thinking its the statins and beta blockers that causes most of it, but it’s my ankles the heel spurs and Achilles are so painfully I can hardly walk after being at work. The left one was operated on in Feb and I was having the right one done in Jan but because it’s a 3hr op and 3mths recovery it’s too much after the AVR so will have to wait maybe another year.so take care keep us updated live like a princess 👸 Kaz💖💕❤️

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Sounds like you had ultimate comfort! I have a head and body cushion that is weighted at the back so it doesn’t slip down, works a treat.

So sorry you are having all the additional health issues and feeling low. Hope you pick up soon and your ops are successful.

Keep me posted, Dory xxx❤️💕❣️

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Wow looking good Dory.

So glad your back with us.

Take care Kaz💖💕❤️

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Phew! So pleased to hear you are back home and in high spirits and on the mend. We were all wondering where you were!

Great post and you are so right, heart surgery and everything that goes with it shows how resilient the human body and spirit is. I'm 10 weeks post op and went back into hospital quite poorly needing a pericardium and pleural effusion and left feeling wretched but I've managed to get going and I'm taking a big piano exam tomorrow. No one can believe it, but after my op I've found a new resilience and power to do things and I'm doing more phyz than my friends who have no problems. I'm sure heart surgery empowers us to grab life by the horns!

Keep smiling Dory and enjoy being at home at last. X

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Thank you Shopgirl, it certainly is good to have surfaced again.

So sorry you had set backs but great to hear you being so positive and taking life by the horns. I think you are right, our heart surgery experience does seem to give us a more positives d determined outlook on life.

Hope you continue to make good progress, fantastic!

Dory xx💕

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dory all best andycx☺

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dory all best to youx☺

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Thank you!💕 - got it right this time

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Hi Dory

Well! Wow! What a time you have had! You look fabulous by the way.

Hope everything continues to go the right way! I too had the sense of smell thing, the sickness and huge weight gain (and I'm only little)! One morning a lovely old porter came to get me for a chest X-ray and he had some nice male smelliest on.... well, I nearly vomited in the lift with him, poor chap! He'll never wear that one again!

Good luck with the game. I was thinking of making a 'heart surgery bingo' game.

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Thank you Clairebear,

Funny how your sense of smell reacts, I can relate to the aftershave. The worse was if someone came close smelling of garlic, yuk!

I have had some strange cravings since regaining my appetite, jelly, glasses of milk and the strongest of all, something I never eat - a double quarter pounder with cheese, fries and a strawberry milkshake, that was my first meal when I returned home, where did that come from. It all reminded me of pregnancy sickness and cravings. Still drinking lots of milk, probably my body telling me I need the calcium.

Perhaps we should go into business together and design a whole load of games based on heart surgery etc.

Dory x💕

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I had to laugh when I read about your first meal when you returned home - I got my husband to stop for a chicken burger, fries and strawberry milkshake on my way home from hospital!!!!!!

Wendy x 💖

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How funny, I wonder what it is about fast food cravings??

Dory x💕

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That's funny, I couldn't get enough milk either when I was in hospital after diagnosis/having daughter forcibly removed. I definitely think cravings should be satisfied when you're recovering from something like this. X

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Totally agree, which is why I'm about to tuck into a doughnut!!!!! 😺

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Good for you, yum yum piggy’s bum! x

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I totally agree, if for no other reason than to stop you thinking about them xx

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Bless you Dory. So glad you are home. My experience was a walk in the park in comparison. Take it easy and start looking forward to the New Year. Love Margaret xx

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Thank you Margaret,

I’m doing fine now I am back home, so pleased that your op went well. Hope you continue to recover well too.

Dory xxx💕

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well thank goodness, you are back, lots missed you. I spent 28 datys post op, but I did have a lot going on. Nothing like putting your own kettle on after so long away.

Take Care Onwards & upwards

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Only if the kettle isn't too heavy!!

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Precisely, we have a whistling hob kettle so out of bounds for me! What a shame, I have my tea made for me 😄

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Put your feet up and let someone else make it.

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Exunctly as the BFG would say! x

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Never thought of that,

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