My Heart Will Go On Part II

Did I leave ya hangin' on the last post? I'm sorry if I did.  If you missed the last one, check it out here

April 5/18 Day of Surgery

It was soooo cold, like teeth chattering cold,  as I lay on my bed in the operating room waiting for my team to show up. Bursting through the door they came! Being the smart ass that I am greeted the docs with, "Did everyone wear their capes today?" In true super hero fashion one piped up..

"Oh, honey!  We only put those on once you are asleep!"

Ok.  I'm good. These people really are super heroes and I'm in great hands.  It didn't hurt that there were also four redheads in the OR including my self...another good omen.  One of the nurses piped up, "Is she a Ginger?  We now have 4G in here!"

Ok.  I'm really good!

After giving me a cocktail of drugs, I don't remember anything more that day.  I'm sure they were anxious to administer them quickly to shut me up! lol

As I said in the earlier post, I had a team of 12 professionals working with me that day.  Each one had their job, whether prepping, opening my chest, checking vitals, and administering necessary drugs. Dr. Rebeyka was in the OR for about two hours to do his thing which was to replace my Aortic Valve. Once I was open, it was clear to him that my valve was damaged way more than they had initially thought and was good that the surgery was happening now.

THIS is my new mechanical valve! Can you believe that's what it looks like? I was actually shocked when I Googled it.  I think it must  make me a little bionic, don't ya think??

My husband and Mom were given the news that everything went well and that I would be sent up to the Intensive Care Unit to recover.  I spent the next 24 hours there with round the clock care and a slew of machines, tubes and drains attached to me.  My arms were in braces to keep still and I don't remember much. After such a trauma to my body, it is probably a good thing that I was so heavily medicated.

I remember waking up that evening and seeing my daughter standing at the side of my bed. She had just flown in to Edmonton after writing a university exam earlier that day.  Poor girl! I tried to smile at her.  I know she was terrified to see me so pale and hooked up to so many machines, including a ventilator to help me breathe. 

April 6/18    1 Day Post Op

I awoke to the news of the tragic Humbolt bus crash.  Thankfully I was still out of it to fully comprehend the magnitude of what had happened.  A good day to count our blessings.

I got to dangle my feet off the side of my bed today and be extubated. They don't waste any time.  Little victories...

All the fluids I was being given made me a bit puffy...okay, a lot puffy! Looking pretty rough, actually but starting to get some colour back in my body which my family and physicians were happy to see. 

I was brought up to the ward to continue my recovery.  I was in a semi private room with Allison.  We bonded pretty quickly over our need for pain medication! I can't say that I have ever felt pain like this before, not even having gone through cancer or giving birth to a breech baby on an airplane.  Generally us redheads have a pretty high pain tolerance and thankfully so!  

April 7/18    2 Days Post Op

I felt like I hadn't eaten for days and yet, I wasn't hungry especially once I received the hospital meals.  They were horrible!  Don't be fooled by the glossy pics.

Day by day, I lost additional wires or things that hooked up to machines and beeped when they weren't happy.  More progress.  I was also given my own shiny set of wheels, of the walker variety.  It would help me get around as the nurses were encouraging me to get up and walk.  It took everything in me to make it to the washroom and when I was back in bed, needed a nap.  

April 8/18    3 Days Post Op

Each day seemed to get a little bit easier and generally slept through the nights except to be given more meds.  I think I slept through a good part of the days as well.  Most of the tubes and wires were gone by now, excluding my chest tube and pacing wires. The doctors used pacing wires that  exited just below my ribcage.  These are used in cardiac patients to, for lack of better words, jump start my heart in case something happened post surgery.

I was also encouraged to start working on my breathing using this nifty spirometer.  You basically take as big of a breath in and hold it as long as you can.. It sounds easy but I can assure you it is not!  For me, this was probably one of the most painful parts.  Every time I took a breath in, I would get a sharp pain that radiated from the back of my ribs.  The docs believed it to be from my chest tubes pushing back into my ribs.

April 9/18  4 Days Post Op 


Today was a good day!  I'm not sure what happened overnight but there was a visible change for my family.  I was pretty perky and less sleepy.  I think in all honesty, I was willing myself to get better.  I knew that patients are expected to be in hospital 7-10 days and days were getting numbered there. I tried to do my walking with my spiffy walker four times a day and it was nice for a little change of scenery.  

My roommate, Allison went home and was replaced by a man from northern Alberta who was being prepped for immediate surgery.  He talked on his cell phone the whole time while I was trying to nap...I honestly knew his life story in the three hours he was my roomie!  And then the nurse came in to shave him.  Finally quiet except the for the humming buzz of the clippers.  He must have been a hairy beast because it seemed to go on forever or at least until I finally fell asleep.  He didn't return to my room.


April 10/18 5 Days Post Op










Sid and my parents went back home and a new roommate moved in.  It was like revolving doors there! I was feeling like it was ready to go.  I was done with the food, the chatty Cathy next to me and her parade of guests throughout the day and being restricted by the remaining tubes and wires.  I was able to shower today and even though I needed full was truly amazing!  It's one of those things that we totally take for granted!

April 11/18  6 Days Post Op


Today was the day that they gave me the boot.  For those that have had babies, it was kind of like that moment when you think, "They're really going to let me leave with this little baby?"  I had such amazing care thus far.  How would that happen at home? Do they know what a klutz I am? My chest is literally wired together. How and I not going to hurt myself?(You can see in this picture how my sternum bone is quite raised.  It will go back to normal in the next six months).                             

After many teaching sessions on food and nutrition, caring for my incision, lifting restrictions, medication dosages and overall care, I signed my release papers and was outta there!

I make that sound like it happened quickly.  It didn't.  The whole system takes a long time to process and I was moving about as fast as a turtle walking through honey.  

Now, it's time for the real recovery to start happening.  In such a short time (less than a week) it is incredible to think that one could go through so much and how our bodies allow us to start healing so quickly.  Having just gone through this, I still find it hard to fathom.

 I am forever grateful to my amazing medical team both in Alberta and Manitoba, my family and friends and everyone that took time out of their day to send words of encouragement each and every day.  I can not go without thanking my incredible staff for holding down the store and allowing me to do what I need to girls are incredible!

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What about that young man who was belligerent to the mother?? I need to know. Hugs and see you soon


You are amazing! Thank you for sharing this incredible experience of yours with us. I am so glad that everything turned out as it did. I look forward to seeing you at the store this summer.


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