New member of the club: Hi, I'm a 6... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation
17,059 members11,425 posts

New member of the club


Hi, I'm a 63 year old male going on 25 (wish) who has just (3 weeks and counting) had a triple bypass. Probably started about 40 years ago when I had an 'episode' of chest pain whilst walking the kids and playing with the dogs. Got it all checked out and nothing showed up. Sent away with aspirin and the good ol' glyceryl trinitrate 'just in case'. All ok, roll on 39 years and I'm having what I knew was angina episodes (Mum had history of heart problems). Got a same day appointment (our 'Farmhouse' surgery is great, if it's urgent you can see doc same day) with one of the duty doctors who started the ball rolling extraordinarily quickly and I had a barrage of x-rays, tests, and the obligatory angiogram with a cast of about 12 professionals. One who seemed to spend most of the time jumping up and down on my groin. Once they had finished getting all the shots and readings I was told that "you have a lot going on, we will discuss you in our weekly meeting..." The following day I had an egg sized solid swelling where my friend had been pummelling the top of my thigh. Turned out it was a haematoma - took about 3 weeks to dissipate totally.

I then got referred from Bournemouth Hospital to Southampton for more tests and the all important meeting with my surgeon/consultant who offered 14 stents in 2 sessions or the triple +/- a valve. I opted for the heart surgery as the volume of stents would probably only put off the inevitable at a later date. I was termed very urgent.

I was given the option of a stay in a private hospital that the NHS used to speed up the waiting list. It seemed rude not to accept.

Four months later I was in for my operation. I'd had my pre-meds and got as far as the theatre doors when I was told the patient before me had complications post theatre and they had run out of time. Go home.

Two weeks later I was in for my operation. This time I went down first. No need for the valve just the triple by-pass. All went to plan. The very ever worst bit of my life was when they took out the 3 tubes. I was given gas and air and told to suck on it and to hold a big drag when told - when the tubes were pulled out it felt like someone was drawing my soul out through a straw. Three times. Worst ever feeling, not pain but harrowing. I was eventually sent up to my room with a fetching navy flack jacket, cut a bit high but on trend this season.

All the staff were brilliant and I can't praise them enough. I was booked in for seven days but released after six. Either I was doing well or they got fed up with me. Back home now to be assisted by my poor wife (she has fibromyalgia and is not in the best of health) and our 2 dogs. I am now in my 3rd week post op and feeling good. Driving my good wife to distraction. I'm not in pain apart from my sciatica/spinal stenosis which has been there for years. I was taking Naproxen for that but now cannot take any anti-inflammatories, so we'll see how that goes.

I have been to my first Heart Club meeting which was interesting - you never get the whole picture of your heart journey until you have spoken to all the various factions involved and piece together all the snippets like Miss Marple (lots of daytime telly, can't wait to get to the house auctions).

How about 'clicky sternum' syndrome. No rhyme or reason - washing hands, breathing, passing wind, Consultant said to tighten the corset, my doctor said not to worry - happens a lot, lady at Heart Club was very concerned and to be extremely careful.

Well that's me, I'll now go back to trawling through Gumtree and Spotify. Can't wait for six weeks and driving again...

Take care everyone.

Hey Nonny Mouse

8 Replies

When I had my drains etc removed a super nurse said "this will hurt" and she was right - I felt that I was having lengths of barbed wire pulled from my spine and back ribs and heaved out of the holes in my front !! I was not given gas and air or anything more numbing than the warning "Do NOT MOVE untl these are clear !!"

Can't even imagine what it was like without amything to numb it. What would we do without super nurses...

MichaelJHHeart Star
in reply to emjay18

For each drain I was told take a deep breath and hold it. Nothing else! It was jolly painful. Then I was told that one pacing wire was stuck. A surgeon pulled it out without difficulty and with no pain. I felt the nurse had not done it that many times before. The last of the scabs has only just gone after over three months leaving quite noticeable red marks.

Most painful thing for me was the first time I sneezed after op, it felt like someone had run a sword through my chest. Three years on and I'm fitter than I've been for a lot of years and enjoying life.

in reply to mapgo

Yes I had a sneeze just after I got home and thought I'd been ripped from chest to bum. Glad the operation made a hugh difference to your quality of life.

Hey, welcome to the club. I had my triple CABG 2 weeks shy of 12 months ago. I was in hospital for a week pre-op (in the much maligned Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow) and then the op and post recovery (5 days) at the excellent Essex Cardiothoracic Centre, Basildon. I have nothing but praise for the teams that looked after me both before and after the op (Harlow and Basildon for me).

The worst bits of the post op stuff for me were:

1) waking up intubated

2) the excruciating pain associated with coughing - my pillow became my best friend for a week or so

3) removal of the drain tubes (thankfully just two of them) - not painful but your description of someone reaching inside and removing your soul just about hits it the nail on the head - and having endured one tube being removed, I then had to lie there while they did the 2nd one - and I wasn't offered anything - just breath deep and hold :-(.

You are just starting the journey - 3 weeks is still early days - but hopefully you will see almost daily improvement from here on in. The first milestone is to be discharged by your surgical team, then being able to remove the compression stockings (I loathed those), and then driving (6-8 weeks is typical). For me that felt like life was now 'normal' again. Take things easy, don't over do things, work up your strength and stamina slowly.

Good luck with your recovery.

Yes, it's pretty gruesome for sure Steve. A lady who had her op same day as I did had asthma and hardly stopped coughing poor thing, she was in agony and always clutching her pillow for dear life.

I think the hardest thing about recovery is holding back and watching others do your 'job' to not being able to drive (as my wife doesn't drive) so feel marooned at home. Reduced to washing up and making cups of tea. I keep tropical fish and changing water litre by litre is a good workout with rests every 10 litres. Takes most of the day, not as if my diary is full though...

My Heart Club advised that if we were up and walking lots we could ditch the stockings - didn't need telling twice, leg is healing nicely with the air to it.

I'll try and behave...

Guys and Gals, if you think removing chest drains without pain relief, coughing or sneezing hurts after CABG, try vomiting!! I did, unfortunately on day 4 post op, I’ve never done it again and I’m now 16 months post op! Trust me, the rest pales into insignificance by comparison.

Keep smiling everyone.

You may also like...