What To Expect After An Open-Heart Surgery


Hey there you! 

Three weeks from now, it will be one year when I had an open - heart surgery. If you're new to my blog, a short background about me, is that, I acquired Rheumatic Heart Disease when I was a child and last February, my leaking mitral valve was replaced with a metallic one. I actually have lots of stories yet to tell about my surgery, the disease, my symptoms, and also about life after OHS (Open-Heart Surgery) and etc. And how I wish I really have A LOT of time. But you know, life needs to be lived offline heeheehee. Or else, I don't have anything to write about. Just kidding! 
I'm telling you about my experience to help people or relatives of those people who would undergo OHS. These experiences were unforgettable and very amazing to me as I think about them now. God is awesome! 

So let's start with this one NOW:

What To Expect After An Open-Heart Surgery?

Warning ⚠ The things I'm going to say next may not be for the faint hearted. Be warned.

1. ICU. When people hear "ICU," first thing that cones to mind is that, the person is "in a critical condition," when he or she is in the ICU. Truth is, that's not always the case. A patient who went into a major operation like an OHS needs the proper monitoring that could only be available in the ICU. So after your surgery you will wake up in the ICU and be calm. Your vitals just need to be in close monitoring for your safety. Relatives are allowed to come in the ICU during mealtimes only, one at a time. And they will be instructed to wear something that looks like a white lab coat, shoe covers and sanitize by washing hands.  You need to be observed in the ICU for a minimum of three days, depending on your recovery. You would feel sleepy for most times as your body is still recovering from the trauma of surgery. Here's the story about how I survived ICU. 

2. Breathing tube and wires. Days before the operation, my surgeon gave me and hubby some briefing about the procedure that they're going to do. And even if I was hesitant to hear it at first, my surgeon continued on to discuss it. I'm glad he did. Because waking up in that scenario - in the ICU, a breathing tube down my throat, several wires and monitors, etc. - could definitely send you in panic mode. And even if I knew what scenario to expect , there was still some kind of mental panic for the first minute. I just tried to breathe deeply, calm myself and think that everything that's happening is my normal as of the moment. After 3 hours, the breathing tube was removed. Hay! Btw, when the breathing tube was still inside, it's not really painful eventhough it may look like it is. They put it while you're already sleeping in the OR so you wouldn't know when they're putting it. The extubation was somewhat scary but the process was fast. Make sure you listen to what the doctor tells you to do.
The wires connected to the monitors will stay until you get out of the ICU. They are hooked up to the body by stick-on patches with sensors just like the ones used in an ordinary ECG test. Beside the bed is a vital signs monitor, where your heartrate, heart rhythym, blood pressure and oxygen level is indicated. There are some more numbers there but I couldn't identify. If your vitals are outside the normal range, it an alarm would sound and you will be given attention. 

3. Hunger and thirst. I was so hungry and thirsty when I awoke from the surgery. Sadly, you are not allowed to eat and drink immediately after you wake up. The nurse pat a wet cotton ball on my lips because I was really complaining of thirst. I was ordered to have fasting starting 9PM the night before, until Saturday 10PM on the day of the operation. You will only be allowed to eat jellies. Those were the most delicious jellies! I finished two cups and at 1AM, I asked the nurse again to feed me and I had another one at 5AM. I was then allowed to eat soft food like fruits (except banana and apple), soups and congee or lugaw. The next day, I was allowed to eat rice and viands on low fat and low salt diet.

4. Terrible backache. Which. was. really. terrible. Oops! Did I say that again? Coz it really becomes almost unbearable. REALLY. During the surgery, the ribcage was manipulated so they could get to your heart. If you are not fainthearted then you may look into google about what I'm saying. That might have caused movements to the bones on your back as well because of course the ribs and back are connected. Plus, you have been laying down on your back for almost 3 days. I tried to lay on my side with the help of the nurse but it's also uncomfortable. I tried to sit up on the bed on the second day with the headboard up and pillows on my back. It helped a little to change positions but it's hard to also stay in one pose for a long time. Hubby gave me light back massages   several times a day when I was transferred to a regular room, which gave relief but the pain didn't really go away. I guess the backache is one of those inevitable things that you need to go through when you had OHS. I wish I knew about the terrible backache but still there's nothing that could've been done.
The back pain didn't go away even until I was already home, one week after the surgery. Although, I didn't know exactly when it was gone, maybe after a month, but it will go away in time. I guess walking, jogging and moving around really helped.

5. Walking. Let's hear the bright side this time. Yes, you would be able to walk, actually you will be ordered to walk, days after your surgery. When I was already in my room, which was the 4th day post-op, my cardiologist told me to try to sit up on my bed with my feet hanging on the bedside first then try to move about little by little transferring from the bed to the chair. My room was really small like one step to transfer from the bed to the chair so that wasn't too hard. Then the day after that he ordered me to try walking outside my room. It's like learning to walk again. It's weird. Be sure to have someone to assist you.

Let me park here in the meantime, as this post is getting too long already. I shall give you part 2 of this post soon. See yah! 

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