Recovery begins …

I’m not sure if it was the drugs but the ICU doc sounds awfully like my GP, Todd. I hear him speaking to others in ICU and wonder if Todd has been moonlighting here. I’m trying to catch a glimpse of him but just can’t manage it.

Finally he gets to me and it’s not Todd (unsurprisingly really). His name is John Lewis and he has an Intern and Registrar with him.

He’s here to give me an update on my progress.

“You’re flying!” he says, “It’s going well.” He explains that being so young (55) has its advantages. “You may feel it more but you’ll recover quicker than if you were 75 or 85.”

It gives me some confidence and the day seems better, not just for the diagnosis, but the guy is very upbeat and positive and it rubs off.

I should be out of ICU and in a ward within 24 hours.

Well, we laughed…

With the “panic” the nurse had me in with the AF it was quite the opposite with the next nurse. I asked, timidly, afraid of the answer, if my heart had settled down somewhat.

She said that AF was almost expected after a heart operation.

I conveyed my concerns about it being the end of my life and if the family were going to be called in to say goodbye. (Hey, it felt real to me!)

Well, she laughed and calmed me down. Explaining a bit about AF and, “No, your family has not been called and don’t be so silly!”

I felt a bit stupid but very much relieved.

I began to concentrate on the tubes going into my body. Three into my stomach, the one in my neck and this box that I was connected to with wires being stuck to me on the outside.

Recovery

1:16am. Wednesday, 18 July.

The high heart rate is Atrial Fibrillation.

The nurse seems in a bit of a panic but it could also be that I’ve just come out of a very long sleep.

Nurse: Your heart rate is very erratic!

Me: Huh?

N: Can’t you feel it?

Me: Er, no.

I try and control my breathing to get my heart under control. No luck! It’s bouncing around 120-130 bpm.

Having never been in this situation before I begin to wonder how serious this is. The nurse is acting like it is very serious.

I wonder: is this the time they bring the family in to say goodbye?

Back to the story…

It’s now July 17. I only remember up until 7:00am or thereabouts. That was when they collected me from the ward to be wheeled in to surgery.

The anaesthetist had a chat with me while a nurse did her thing with my arm.

It’s now 1:00am July 18.

Lost a whole day.

So, what happened:

FBH and Son were together waiting for a call from surgeon around 12:30pm.

Not being able to wait, FBH called the hospital.

“Sorry, he’s still in surgery.”

A little panic ensues. Shouldn’t he be out now?

1:00pm surgeon calls. All done. Pretty straight forward. He’ll be fine.

The stress on the FBH and Son hits and they cry in relief.

The family visits when allowed and I’m in ICU. See above picture. (FBH didn’t know Daughter was taking photo.)

I’m told when you’re in a coma you can still hear people.

I didn’t feel her hand on mine. I wish I had.

I don’t hear them come or go.

Next thing I know, it’s 1:16am and the nurse is fussing.

Something about heart rate being too high!

6 month-aversary

This time 6 months ago I was prepping for surgery.

A full body shave (apologies for the mental image). Showering with antiseptic soap (again, apologies).

Eating hospital food (I get the apology this time)!

Six months later I’m back at work full time.

I’ve started running again.

I’m also doing so broader exercises – failing but trying (I’m looking at you skipping!)

But the realisation did hit me this morning. And it was a bit emotional.

It hit me that 6 months have passed and I’m back on deck.

Life did, indeed, go on.

I cannot be more grateful for the FBH and my family.

I am also very grateful for my employer (e.g. Flick, Kyles and Darren) who kept in touch and helped me transition back into work life.

And then there is the Dog, Django. My walking partner for the last 6 months who’s walks were quite short in the beginning but now are back to normal.

It’s Not Just Me …

I was at my daughter’s parkrun on Saturday in Yokine, Western Australia. Lovely place and a great location, albeit a tad freeeeezing on this particular day.

The FBH and I were doing our usual casual but brisk walk that turned into a bit of a light run from about half way. We eventually warmed up and enjoyed yet another parkrun which we tend to do every weekend. It’s always hard getting out of bed but it’s always well worth the effort.

As I handed in my token, a couple were sitting down after their run and one of them complained of having chest pains during the run. He also mentioned he was asthmatic  and this could have been the cause.

I normally mind my own business in these things, not out of lack of care but not having the whole story and I may be off the mark.

But this time I decided to have a chat and show him my arm wound just for impact.

“Have a guess how I got that?”, I asked. It certainly got his attention!

I was able to have a good discussion with him about my altercation with chest pains and what it led to. I certainly advised him I was no doctor and I wasn’t diagnosing his symptoms but I did suggest he get checked out. At least if there were no issues he’d have some peace of mind.

I’d hate to turn into someone who catastrophes every little niggle but in some cases where it’s life or death maybe a little bit of caution is helpful.

 

Recovery Run

img_0490Recovery runs are easy workouts that may flush out lactic acid build up, which can help prevent delayed onset of muscle soreness and speed up recovery. Something athletes do after a half marathon or marathon or during training to recover from high intensity sessions like intervals.

My runs at the moment are simply recovering from surgery.

Since The Big Day (17 July, the date of at the triple bypass) I’ve been slowly getting back to normal activity through walking and then stretching to longer walks and then more brisk walks.

At today’s parkrun at Yokine, Western Australia, I got into what I’d call normal running.

I started off walking and then decided to run a light pole, walk a light pole to see how I’d feel.

I certainly didn’t run the whole 5km today but towards the end of the run I felt that my cadence was coming back and the rhythm was feeling like something familiar.

Bypass image
Image courtesy of Annals of Cardiothoracic Surgery

It’s still a bit “jumpy” where the surgeon took the two mammary arteries to use be, but certainly better then last week.

I also felt a tingling in my left thumb where the radial artery was taken from to help with the surgery.

The left arm is healing really nicely too, thanks to John Ranger, the guy who performed the suturing. He’s done an amazing piece of work.

It’s is almost nine weeks since the surgery and in terms of realising how after you’ve progressed, it’s more the things that don’t happen that make you realise its all coming together.

For example, just 3 or 4 weeks ago, my mammary arteries would cause a nerve tingling that was very aggravating. Now that’s completely gone! But you don’t realise it’s gone for a few days, if you know what I mean.

So, the progress is definitely there and just when you think something doesn’t look or feel right, it seems to go away.

I’ve never had heart surgery before (and hopefully never again) so I’m not really sure how this is supposed to go! But, so far so good!