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Respected Contributor
Posts: 2,834
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

[ Edited ]

@beth58 

 

First of all, the best to your husband and you.  

 

I haven't had open heart surgery but 3 years ago I did have emergency heart surgery because my heart cavity had filled with fluid.  I was in the hospital for 5 days.  I think bypass patients go home sooner but..... all went well and I came home.

 

I promise you there will be a steady stream the first few days at home of outpatient care workers coming to your house.  They will offer most anything that he needs and will explain every detail of the post care needs.  

 

So, try to relax and know that at every step from arriving at the hospital to leaving there will be people explaining everything to both of you.  Just take it one step at a time.

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Posts: 10,453
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

[ Edited ]

 

@beth58 

 

Although most Heart Bypass Surgeries use similar methods, they are done for different reasons. Those heart patients that have this procedure before a heart attack, are very fortunate. This does not lessen the risk of the procedure, but it certainly is a big factor when it comes not losing heart muscle.

 

Pain for everyone is subjective, a #10 Pain Level for you might be a #3 Pain Level for me, or vice versa. I spent weeks on the Heart Floor at my hospital(was my 2nd home for years), around a whole lot of patients that had undergone this surgery. Without any complications, none of them were in the hospital over 4 days, Max, post surgery.

 

Depending on their overall health and physical fitness before this surgery, that was the best indicator of how well they would do post surgery, and how long before they could completely recover, and move on with their normal life.

 

This I can tell you for sure. Many of the patients I met had more post surgery issues with the Mental Aspects of their recovery than with the Physical Aspects. They were always thinking "What If"? They were actually physically healed, but mentally they had problems with believing they were not irreparably damaged, when they were not.

 

Most Cardiac Surgeons do not want their patients doing anything physically hard for their upper body for 6-8 weeks. Walking is one of the best ways to get better, but no heavy lifting for the above amount of time. These surgeries have been improved a whole lot over time, and while everyone should be concerned, terrified?  That is up to how a person handles serious physical issues with their loved ones.

 

I wish you and you husband the best before and post surgery. It may not be easy for either of you, but you both will be fine.

 

 

 

hckynut

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Registered: ‎04-02-2015

Re: managing open heart surgery


@beth58 wrote:

We have just learned that my husband (77 yeaers old) will need open heart surgery . The thought is terrifying .  Neither of us have any experience with surgeries beyond my having the kids.  I know he will be fine - it's the aftermath I'm frightened of.  We have no family in the area. We have friends but I wouldn't feel right about asking them for help. He'll be in the hospital for 4 days and then we are on our own. I would really appreciate any advice any of you might have. on handling this.  Will I be changing dressings ? Do I need to hire a nurse? Should I rent a hospital bed? Our house has 5 levels. How much pain will he be in? 

Sorry about all the ranting.  You can tell I'm a bit overwhelmed.


I had open heart at 78 ., my biggest problem was the pain, they give you a big pillow to hold, when you cough. I was a heavy smoker,[not now], They will get him up to the bathroom, then 4 days in, a walk up the stairs. I lost my appetite, couldn't eat. My husband had had it, altogether different. Had not much pain to speak of. Quit worrying, that's what the Dr, and nurses are for, he'll get lots of pain meds,other than the steps getting into the house, he'll be able to do what is normal till he gets his strenth back. Hope this helps some.What dressing are you talking about, there are no dressing.

 

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Posts: 18,395
Registered: ‎05-17-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery


@beth58 wrote:

We have just learned that my husband (77 yeaers old) will need open heart surgery . The thought is terrifying .  Neither of us have any experience with surgeries beyond my having the kids.  I know he will be fine - it's the aftermath I'm frightened of.  We have no family in the area. We have friends but I wouldn't feel right about asking them for help. He'll be in the hospital for 4 days and then we are on our own. I would really appreciate any advice any of you might have. on handling this.  Will I be changing dressings ? Do I need to hire a nurse? Should I rent a hospital bed? Our house has 5 levels. How much pain will he be in? 

Sorry about all the ranting.  You can tell I'm a bit overwhelmed.


 

@beth58   Firstly, let me express that I recognize your fear and questions. Secondly, I haven't read through the thread, so sorry for any repetition.

 

My 42 yr. old son went through open heart surgery to repair a valve before it'd need to be replaced...discovered when getting short of breath when running and at the gym. They had my 2 small granddaughters to look after (the hours after daycare) and DIL worked full time. 


Ok, so I went up to VA/DC area for a few weeks to help out. No hospital bed needed, but he did have a 1st floor bedroom...no stairs allowed for at least a month. He was released holding a stuffed heart pillow to press close to his chest when coughing, sneezing, walking...anytime he could possiblely fall on his still sutured chest. He's 6' tall and was a little difficult for me to help out of a chair or off the bed, not supposed to strain, but we managed w/ a method the nurse showed us before release. We put toes to toes for leverage and with holding his hands, it allowed him to use my arms to balance to get up. Reminder that I'm only 5' tall and barely 100 lbs., but have always worked out, even now at 71 and quite strong. If you can't rely on your strength, an aide may be useful during the day until he gets in bed. A nurse is not necessary. There were no dressings, staples and surgical tape were in place to be removed later. Within a few days home, he was able to sit in the shower...we used a kitchen stool...I stood outside the curtain handing him surgical soap. He needed to "cover up" & I went in to shampoo his hair and wash his back. ARMS CAN'T BE RAISED even to get dressed. We had purchased button up the front flannel shirts to layer...anesthesia sometimes leaves them cold for awhile...also a robe that wraps around. He slept in sweat pants and his flannel shirts...couldn't get his sweatshirts over his head w/o lifting arms.

 

He napped a lot and by the end of week one, we were able to walk around the apartment slowly until he got his "sea legs" and in a few days ventured outside for 10-15 minutes at a time...exhausting for him, but necessary to not lie around to prevent pneumonia and other complications. 

***There isn't anything medical you need to do. It's mostly care taking. Depending on your strength, age and ability, you may be able to handle it, but having an aide (nurse expensive and not needed), puts less strain on you and it's exhausting! I traded spots w/ DIL in the bed so I could help him to bathroom during the night, etc. He spent most of the time resting/sleeping. I was beaten down, exhausted and came back to NC w/ a bad cold and very sore back, arms and was in bed myself for a few weeks.

 

I would be there for him again in a second. He enjoyed Mommy's home cooking, knowing the kids were cared for and the house was cleaned, laundry done & dinner ready  when my DIL got home at 6. He felt guilty since they shared household duties. An aide can help out with that while you keep hubby company. She/he can also run errands to drugstore, food store, restaurant pick up, etc. since at no time can your husband be left alone. 

I think I covered everything that's important. You can also contact the nurses in the surgeon's office before surgery for info. They can give you post op instructions and you can decide if this is something you can handle or need backup. Don't be a martyr. I had DIL to do food shopping or anything needed to be brought in. Without anyone close by, an aide or outside help seems the way to go. 

***Sorry for long post. Best of luck. I know all will go smoothly for both of you. 

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Trusted Contributor
Posts: 1,265
Registered: ‎11-21-2011

Re: managing open heart surgery

When is the surgery? When my dad had it I think they gave us a CD to watch that explained everything. My father was itching to get out by the next day. He'll be fine. If he wears a wedding ring make sure he doesn't argue about that and takes it off. That was the biggest argument we had to deal with. Thankfully they convinced him after wheeling him back because his hands really blew up during the surgery.

 

I don't think you have to worry about dressings or anything. They should end a visiting nurse for a little bit. I think his biggest annoyance will be the fact that he has to be very careful when getting up out of bed, no lifting, things like that while you wait for the sternum to heal. They should spell all of this out for you ahead of tiime so you're comfortable.

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Posts: 64
Registered: ‎08-30-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

There will be someone that will ask you all sorts of questions at the hospital about the after surgery care. They will be a "partner" in this with you. (At least in our situation they were). 

My mother had 2 heart surgeries in the span of 6 months. She was in cardiac rehab at the hospital on an in paitent basis for about 2-3 weeks each time and then for about 6-8 weeks after that as an out patient basis. 

My mother at the time was late 70's and now mid 80's.

The doctors and nurses realize that this is something new and unknown and should be able to help you.

I wish you and your husband all the best.

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Respected Contributor
Posts: 2,180
Registered: ‎06-25-2014

Re: managing open heart surgery

@beth58 i am glad that you felt comfortable coming here and asking questions.  seems as though you have gotten lots of really good suggestions, and comfort/support as well.   i hope all goes well for you, and look forward to hearing about his recovery.  you will both be in my prayers..

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Honored Contributor
Posts: 21,963
Registered: ‎05-10-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

It's scary and it's overwhelming and I think you are scaring yourself even more, for no reason.  These are question that your doctor or the one of the nurses in the office an easily answer for you.  Call the surgeon's office and explain that your husband is having surgery and you want to discuss the aftercare.  I do think it will be much easier that you think.  

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Posts: 3,888
Registered: ‎02-09-2016

Re: managing open heart surgery

@Bridgegal Has any one had that procedure where they stop and restart the rythmn of your heart ?

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Posts: 5,466
Registered: ‎06-10-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

I had quadruple open heart surgery two yrs. ago. I needed help getting out of bed.  I ended up being much more comfortable in a comfy recliner than in my bed. My husband had bought me one of those sleeper beds where the top and foot of the bed are adjustable.  I have to say the recliner was so much better and I slept in it for 4 months and still do sometimes.

 

I did have some complications and was in the hospital for 15 days so I was quite weak when I came home.  Most of the patients I saw did not have my complications so chances are your DH won't either.  I am not going to lie to you....the pain was significant.  I did have pain in my leg also where they took the veins out that was painful for several months. I had to force myself to get up and walk every so often.  DH was right there for me and was a tremendous help. For me, it was a long recuperation but for most of the people I know, it wasn't so think postive!  I will say a prayer for your husband. Saying to myself, "this too shall pass" helped me stay positive.