The Traveling Steve's

Recovering at Home

It’s now October 16th as I write this, and I’ve now been home from the hospital for five 1/2 weeks. I’ve surely come a long way recovery-wise since my open heart surgery on September 1rst.

Me with one of a couple T-shirts Steve (DOS) had made for me. They are great to walk in and make me smile that I got thru the surgery fine!

When I first got home from the hospital after my Aortic Valve replacement surgery, I literally felt like I was in a la-la land like stupor. I felt like my IQ had been dumbed down about 50 points, and while I was glad to be home, I did feel a bit depressed for the first couple of weeks. I wasn’t really in pain as I had had so much pain medication while I was in the hospital, but overall I think I was just exhausted from the hospital experience; i.e. lack of sleep, dozens of tests, tubes internally and externally, X-rays at 6am, respiratory every 4 hours, vitals, blood work – you name it!

First few minutes after arriving home from the hospital on September 7th, after my surgery and six night hospital stay. I was exhausted from the whole experience, and had yet to lose the extra pounds I would so do over the next few weeks.

The hospital staff at Orlando Regional Medical Center were fantastic and made sure I had the best care in the Cardiac Unit, but once home I realized how little sleep I had actually gotten in the 6 nights I was there.

The woozy feeling I felt ended gradually over the following week as all of the pain medication and other drugs left my system and I was able to get much better sleep. It still took me a week or so to sleep better as I had a PICO device with wires attached to me, (which I wore at home for a week), and also a heart monitoring device which I would wear for a month. Like I did a couple years ago when I had a broken neck, I slept in the power recliner for the first couple of weeks which helped. I also loved being home and sitting in my rocking chair (I’ve always been a rocker since I was a little kid!) and would do my respiratory exercises there with my breathing spirometer device.

Finishing up a ten-count with my Sprirometer, in my favorite rocking chair at home.

When I first got home I felt a bit depressed for a couple weeks while I readjusted to my life post-surgery, and the temporary restrictions I would be on for the next couple months; i.e. no lifting more than 10 pounds, no driving for a while, using care not to use my hands to push up out of chair or bed, no baths or getting in the pool, and generally taking it easy at home instead of going out. With the exception of short walks around the neighborhood, I didn’t go out of the house for over three weeks, which was quite a change as we used to go out to eat quite often. It turned out to be a good thing actually though and helped me loose weight! It was nice to quietly observe the beautiful colors of nature in my neighborhood as DOS and I walked about, from a short couple blocks to a bit further each day.

Enjoying the beautiful colors of the neighborhood on our daily walks.
And beautiful sunsets on our evening walks when it’s not as hot.

As I started taking longer walks, I felt a bit better each day, and less tired and no more depression. I had read online that depression is a common side effect of surgery, but once I was able to get around a bit I felt much better. As it was still hot outside in early September when I came home, DOS and I eventually walked around inside the nearby mall for some exercise, taking leisurely photo breaks by some of the various mall shops and venues.

Selfie of us in the mall, taking a break from our indoor walking.
The mall now has a Hollywood-style theater!
My cousin’s name is Patty. Here’s to you Patty!

Cheat photo thrills, but after being in the hospital for six nights and later home recovering, it was quite nice to get out for a while, even if it was just the mall. Who knew they had just added a full-fledged wedding chapel and reception hall in the mall! I can hear couples telling each other years later “We got married between the Dollar Store and Victoria’s Secret!” LOL!

Tacky wedding chapel in the mall; complete with pews, artificial turf, and fake Dollar Store-looking pedals!
Wedding Reception venue in the mall!

As of today, I still have a bit of chest pain, but it’s usually after sleeping and also after walking. I guess the sleeping and walking moves my chest around a bit, but Tylenol helps with that. I haven’t taken any Oxycoten since I’ve been home from the hospital, although the first week or two I was tempted to because of the pain. I don’t want to be addicted to the Oxycoten, not to mention the woozy feeling it causes, so I took Tylenol round the clock for the first couple of weeks. While I prefer Advil, the hospital staff told me to only take Tylenol as Advil (Ibuprofen) is anti-inflamatory and I should avoid it for now due to the risk to the heart.

On the bright side of things, I’ve lost 24 pounds since I was admitted to the hospital on September First! The weight loss is a combination of things, including reduced appetite, eating healthier and smaller portions, eliminating beer (mostly), no fast food and until recently no eating out at restaurants, and walking two times a day. When I first got home, I could only walk a short distance, but have gradually built up the walking to twice a day, at a mile 1/4 each walk. DOS walks with me, and it is a bit of a brisk walk we do together; he’s excited about keeping in shape too!

Our first meal out was lunch at Red Lobster, about 3 1/2 weeks after I got home from the hospital. Dos and I both had salmon. and we even skipped the delicious biscuits they serve!

On another day we had lunch at Cheddar’s in Lake Mary, and also had the salmon there.

And yesterday, we had lunch at the Tuscawilla Country Club were we are social members. It was a beautiful day, and we sat outdoors with a nice breeze cooling us off. We both had burgers and side salads (instead of fries), and I didn’t eat the hamburger roll, only the beef. Watching carbs does help with the weight loss too!

Outdoor lunch at the Country Club
I did have the burger, but no bun or fries! Just a side salad with it so I can eat healthier!

Most recently DOS and I took a short stay-cation to Disney World, which I’ll write about in the next post. While we didn’t do any thrill rides, we were able to walk around the parks for exercise.

DOS even put a few lights and yard decorations out for Halloween! We keep the Christmas lights attached to the house year round as the color options can be changed via remote control. Now we have a mix of green, purple, and orange that rotate in sequence, as well as some spotlights on the bushes as well.

Last Sunday afternoon, DOS and I met our friends Ben and Tom for an Octoberfest celebration in nearby Sanford. It was a beautiful and relaxing afternoon, with a brewski (ok two), a pretzel, and German food served from various vendors.

Surprise! DOS is actually drinking a can of water, not a brewski! Liquid Death is a brand of water – who knew!

Finally I’ll end this post with a huge shout-out to my heart surgeon, Dr. Hanna. Yesterday I had a six week follow-up appointment with Dr. Hanna, and he said my incision was healing nicely and I was doing well. I told him throughout this whole procedure (from the initial consultation, to pre-surgery, thru surgery of course, and follow-up) he and the rest of his team and ORMC Hospital have been outstanding.

Dr. Hanna is so very down to earth, and speaks to you on your level so you understand everything, and takes his time with you to answer your questions and concerns. He definitely made me feel so much more comfortable going into surgery as I was very frightened of such a major heart operation. Thank you again Dr. Hanna!

On Monday I will start Cardiac Rehabilitation, which is a specialized therapy program for heart patients. I have a two hour consultation on Monday where they will evaluate me, and then setup a plan from there.

Once again, I am so thankful for everything everyone has done for me, from the hospital staff to friends, family, neighbors, church members and others who have prayed for me, sent cards, fixed meals, Frankie delivering flowers on behalf of the he church among others.

And most of all Steve (DOS) for taking such good care of me throughout the whole process and especially for his nursing skills at home with changing my bandages, cooking, transporting, and care, and love.

Thanks again everyone, and may God Bless you!

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