Well, it seems the worst of my recovery is over when I get home. It’s exciting to be able to shower and move around without being connected to a cardiac monitor and sat monitor 24/7. That being said, there are also challenges I never imagined. The first week home was difficult both emotionally and physicially. I knew it would be challenging physically, but I underestimated the mental toll this takes on people. I’m sleep deprived and have serious insomnia. I’ll sleep for 1-2 hours, then be awake for an hour or more, this pattern continues night after night. I am in pain and can only sleep flat on my back (which I hate). Finally, on about the 4th night home I give in and take a Percocet. This is the first pain medicine I’ve had since I was in the hospital and it does help a bit. My days are spent trying to just do the basics, showering, having someone take me on an errand to get out of the house, and getting my daily walk in. It’s cold and rainy and that doesn’t help matters. By 1 pm I’m in bed for a nap every day but it’s still great to be home.
As far as the emotional recovery, I’m feeling a bit down here and there and that’s not in my personality. I know that is something that is quite common among open heart surgery patients, but I wasn’t prepared for it. In order to stay connected with family and friends I spend a great deal of time on Facebook…but, as I quickly learned this isn’t good because the wrist where my arterial line was now has a hematoma and is very painful. I had to lay off the computer for a few days to let this heal. My sternum still hurts, but gets a little better each day. The most disconcerting aspect of the whole thing is that I can feel it pop and almost shift when I use my arms too much, or, even when doing something like opening a cap off of a drink. Eew.
I also experience weird low grade fevers every afternoon and it feels as though my skin is crawling with these. I kept my doctors abreast of all of this information and it is perfectly normal. Speaking of doctors, on my first Monday home, I had an appointment with my new cardiologist at Kaiser. He spent over 30 minutes going over my experience and my new medication regimen with my husband. I’m also told to return in a week or so for a routine lab draw to ensure my blood count is ok. I feel confident in my new physician and all of our questions are answered.
All in all, I am making progress though! I stayed at my mom’s the first week home and that helped me to get rest and pace myself. It is so wonderful to be able to hug my family!