Last month I shared news about my upcoming heart surgery. As I finish my last week of Medical Leave, I’m ready to share how my recovery is going.
I frequently am asked the question, “how are you doing?” And my response is the same, “my recovery is going very well.”
On Friday, December 4 my Cardiologist told me I had a bicuspid aortic valve that needed to be replaced soon. I have had this condition since I was born. On Tuesday, December 29 I had my aortic valve replaced with a mechanical valve, and I had a small ascending aortic aneurysm repaired. The surgery lasted five and a half hours. I came home from the University of Minnesota hospital on Monday, January 4—I was there for six days.
Everyone has shared with me that the surgery went very well. All of the doctors and nurses in the hospital shared with me that my body and especially my heart responded very well to the surgery. My color came back quickly; I was able to walk the next day and soon was using the exercise room in the hospital; my level of pain diminished quickly. I stopped taking pain pills soon after coming home from the hospital.
Since coming home from the hospital I’ve spent a significant time going to doctor’s appointments. I visited with my new Primary Care physician; I visited with my surgical team; this last Friday I visited with my Cardiologist; I’ve been going to Cardiac Rehab three times a week; I’ve gotten a blood draw to check my INR level once a week. (I’ll take blood thinner for the rest of my life, and my INR level is a measurement of my blood.) Hardly a weekday has gone by without at least one doctor’s appointment.
I’m am very grateful for this level of medical care, and I’m very grateful that I have health insurance to pay for much of the cost. I understand that I’m blessed in ways that many people in the world are not.
All of my doctors are very satisfied with my recovery. My Cardiologist took a look at me this past Friday and said I’m doing very well. He said he didn’t need to see me for six months. I won’t see my surgical team again and won’t see my Primary Care physician until I need an appointment. My INR level is where it needs to be. I anticipate that after my next blood draw, I’ll get into a schedule of going once a month.
I feel well. I don’t have much pain, and I’m driving again. My energy level is much lower than it was before the surgery, and I don’t anticipate it coming back to where it was for another two to three months. I still can’t lift more than ten pounds, so I won’t be able to shovel snow this winter—darn! I’m not running yet and don’t anticipate being able to do that until March. However I am planning on doing a ten mile or half marathon race this fall.
To all my friends who have told me not to overdo it, let me say, “I am not over doing it.” I have zero desire to mess up my recovery.
Next week I’m going back to work at Chain of Lakes—and I’m ready to go back to work. I’ll probably need to come home every once in a while to take a nap. But I’m ready both physically and emotionally to start working again.
I have so many people to thank that I hesitate to even start in fear of missing someone. I’m most thankful for my wife, Amy, and our daughter, Hannah. They have been a terrific help. And then I’m thankful for my parents and sister, my friends who checked up on me, my neighbors who have gone out of the way to help out, for the people of Chain of Lakes Church who have been extraordinary in keeping the congregation going and extending an amazing amount of care. And if I’ve missed someone in this list, then please consider yourself thanked.
And I have a new appreciation for nurses and all they do to care for patients.
And most of all I am thankful for all of the prayers. Everyone’s prayers were just as important as a quality medical team. Your prayers have sustained me over the last six weeks.
I certainly wouldn’t have chosen to go through this medical procedure, but I feel very blessed to have gone through it.
I’m looking forward to the next phase of life!