Its just before 7 AM here on the west coast and just two weeks ago at this time my chest was wide open and doctors were doing all kinds of surgery on my heart. The heart was stopped, put in an ice bath, and was gently opened to get to my mitral valve. In the meantime, I was being kept alive by a heart lung machine for the next few hours while they did their magic. From information I got later, my operation lasted 3 1/2 hours. Needless to say, I don't remember anything except what I said to the team of doctors and nurses just before they started. They were all assembled next to me for a last minute huddle where my chief surgeon gave them the details of the procedure. "Here we have Mr. Sevenwinds, male, aged 68, and the procedure today is....". It was obviously being recorded for training and legal purposes. At the end, my surgeon asked "Are you ready?"...I distinctly remembered my stupid reply, which was "OK, lets get this done!". I passed out after that and next thing I knew it was almost midnight and I was in ICU.
The last two weeks have been a blur, and it seems like it also has been such a long time ago. So much has happened and I am amazed at the progress that I have been able to make in this recovery process. I remember the first time they got me out of bed. It was the next morning after the surgery at around 7:30 AM. With the help to two nurses (one male and one female) I was able to stand up from the bed. I also remember being totally nauseated with the vision in front of me flipping up and down like a broken old movie strip - I could not get focused on anything in the scene. I had little control of my legs and couldn't move them well, but somehow was maneuvered to the chair where I sat exhausted for the next couple of hours. Never felt so weak and helpless in my whole life during that first day. All my strength was gone, my mind was consumed by the feeling of nausea. Tubes and wires were sticking out all over my body and I remember asking myself, "what the hell did I get myself into?"
I was in ICU for four days. Mainly because there were no step down rooms available to move me. Typically, patients get moved to a step down room on day three, but every bed was occupied and I had to just wait. ICU was overkill and the rules were strict, like no cellphones, electronics, etc. as they could interfere with the sensitive monitoring equipment. That is why no one heard from me for so long after the procedure and a few got worried something went wrong. I felt good enough after day two to be moved but didn't take my first walk until my first day in the SDU (day 5).
Anyway, today's goal include a visit to the lab so my doctor can adjust my warfarin levels and some more walking. Didn't walk much yesterday because I was out visiting my local cardiologist in the morning. Results are very good. In fact, he took me off one of the medications for high blood pressure - saying my pressure was "too good' (too low).