British Heart Foundation
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Post-AVR; life after "death"

Thinking about it, under surgery, my heart ceased pumping for around 45 minutes, albeit with a heart lung machine as an understudy, only to be restarted once surgery had been completed. How amazing is that! Anyway,today I celebrate 4 weeks post op recovery. I've progressed during that period from 4 trips upstairs a day to 4 miles. Blood oxygen is around 96% and BP 130/70. Still reliant on paracetomol to keep discomfort rather than pain at bay and sleep is light but adeqate, sometimes topped up with a healing afternoon knap. My taste and appetite have improved but small meals the order of the day. As a result I've dropped about 6 kilos which to be fair, I could spare with the added bonus that people say how well I look, which is great for morale. The first two weeks I have to say we're a little grim, but perseverence with daily activity eventually began to improve my mobility. Still very little stamina but you just have to keep plugging away. So what has this first month taught me? Firstly, at best, open heart surgery is brutal so there are no short cuts or avoiding activity. You must get your heart and lungs up to scratch and rebuild your energy levels. Others will support you but you have to put in the effort. So establish a routine, setting your self achieveable goals so you can celebrate your success regularly. Secondly, accept that there will be bad days but focus on the good ones because before too long there will be mostly good days and a glimpse of the new healed you. It is a three month marathon not a sprint though, so learn to accept that you are there for the long game. Finally, get out there and socialise. All manner of friends / acqiantances will have been concerned for your welfare and eager to hear news of your recovery. Just don't over do it. This is just the perspective of someone who at 65 had an AVR which my surgeon described as "uneventful" with an "uncomplicated" post op recovery so I guess luck plays a big part. So I hope this provides some insight for those who are about to embark on their journey. Bon voyage!

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Brilliant! Well said and I am really glad you are doing so well. You should keep a copy of this and post it to any newbies that come on board, to show them that there is hope.

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Thanks, Jimmy. Pleased the positivity shone through - I've a great deal to be thankful for.

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Hi Ian, I'm really glad you are feeling so much better than when I commented on your post a few weeks ago. Four miles is brilliant! I think I advised patience, determination and hard work.

I shall remember your words when I have my mitral valve surgery (yet another echo in 2 weeks time)! I hope my surgery goes as well as yours and my husband's CABG.

Best wishes

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Cheers, Mary. I wish you well. Some of it is preparation, an element of good luck, but as you rightly say, ultimately it's down to you. I wish you good fortune and a speedy recovery.

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Hi Ian

So pleased to hear everything is going so well with your recovery and I agree totally with your comments. It will all be a distant memory in no time.

Wendy

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Thank you, Wendy. It was never going to be easy,but proving doable. Like eating an elephant - small chunks at a time!

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Congratulations Ian. Your positive attitude is just what I needed to hear today as I'm having a bit of a tearful couple of days. Usually I'm a very upbeat and positive person. I really like the way you look forward to the future and you remind me that it is possible to live life with enjoyment, even when things are rough.

I'm 4 weeks post AVR and mitral repair too. Walking every day and spending time with friends - the best part of life is having social contact (for me personally). Still on paracetamol for "discomfort" also. I want to return to my normal life and I know I will get there but some days are tougher than others.

Thanks again Ian and I wish you the very best!

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Really appreciate your feedback, lifelover55. There must be droves of us out there, all coping as best we can, so it's great to know you're not alone in meeting the daily challenges of recovery. I was amazed how therapeutic just a coffee with friends was. It provided an enormous lift in morale which doubtless helps the healing. It's a finite journey with every day taking you closer to your destination. Best wishes for your continuing recovery.

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I'm now six months post-op for 2xcabg &AVrepair, first two weeks very difficult, turned a definite corner at six weeks started feeling human again, now six months on at 66 years of age I am in fine fettle and look back with gratitude and thanks to both Bart's and all those posters on this site who gave me so much essential information.

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Turning a corner at 6 weeks? Was that when you started driving again lol! Sorry- couldn't resist. Glad that at 6 months you have a restored normal and are in fine fettle. You had a lot to deal with but we're obviously in good hands.

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This is probably the most positive post I've read and thank you so very much. I'm 57 and awaiting a date for AVR surgery. Hopefully, I will feel as positive as you after. At the moment my mind is more active than my body 😕

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Hi Chrissyh80 I hope you get your date soon. For me it gave me focus to prepare. If you can feel positive and be fit going in for surgery then it can help with your recovery, both mentally and physiologically.Wishing you good luck with your surgery and a speedy recovery.

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Thank you so much. I hope you are fully recovered very soon 😁

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Grest news Ian...so pleased for you. Keep improving and leave all this stressful business behind you. Continued best wishes and take care.

Roy

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so glad you are doing well

i am still awaiting a date for my avr trying to get fitter every day

keep up the good work

vin

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Yes I agree with Jimmy, it's a great blog. I'm now 6 months post AVR and doing well. I still get a bit tired and need a nap some days, but they are becoming less necessary. My advice is still 'listen to your body. Do what you can, but don't overdo it'. Best wishes. Margaret x

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Thank you Margaret. Today my body says 'Get some extra healing sleep' so here I am, still in bed at noon! I will however clock up at least 4 walking miles this afternoon. Fully committed to recovery and restoring fitness. May you continue to do well.

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Thanks Gordon. I want to be fitter than ever, if I can manage it. I want to see my grandchildren grow up. Luckily I've just won 3 months gym membership, in a raffle, at a health event. As I'm retiring from work at the end of June, I'll be taking full advantage. Best wishes. Margaret

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Good news on the gym membership. We have to deal with muscle wasteage under normal circumstances so post op inactivity just compounds the issue but the good news is that some resistance/weight training can reverse this and restore muscle and tone. Looks like an active reirement awaits. I wish you well Margaret. Enjoy!

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