Monday, August 6, 2012

Open Heart Surgery Experience: Part 1

Well, I am not sure how to even start, but I wanted to share some of my experiences of what this has been like to go through. I think that when you go through something like this it is so important to document not only for yourself, but for others. So here goes nothing....

When we got word on wednesday that I would be going in for open heart surgery on Friday I nervous and so grateful at the same time. I knew that this is what needed to happen and it needed to happen fast. We felt super comfortable with this surgeon, Dr. Thorne and knew that I was in the best of hands.

However, that did not make knowing they were going to saw open my chest, stop my heart/go on by-pass, and then have a very difficult recovery - any easier. I wasn't nervous about the risks and knew everything would be ok and my parents felt good about it too, even if we were nervous.

Well, friday came very quickly and I did as much research and tried to prepare myself for what recovery would be like. I was nervous, but was confident that I would be able to get through it. I knew it was not going to be fun, but nothing could prepare me for the pain that would lie ahead.

We got there at 6 AM sharp, ready to go in and I had the nervous tummy and jitters for sure. I had a little bit of an embarrassing moment that morning as well and wished I could have put my foot in my mouth. I went into the bathroom to get changed into my surgical gown and when I came out there was a very jolly, red-haired, 25 year old guy dressed in brown robes. He looked just like Obi Wan Kenobi (ya, I for sure had to look up how to spell that) and assumed maybe he came around dressed up to cheer up patients. I said to him, "I like your outfit!" in kind of a joking way when I realized we were in a Catholic hospital. He laughed pretty hard and replied, "I like yours! It is not every day you see a Monk right?" Aye carumba. I consider myself a pretty cultured person but I just did not put two and two together and he wasn't wearing the cross. Silly me, I am just lucky he thought it was funny and was not offended.

After a little bit of an emotional good-bye to my family they pumped me full of "I don't care medicine" and sent me to the freezing operating room. It was a regular morning for everyone else in that O.R. and for me a monumental, scary, and life changing moment. Want U Back by Cher Lloyd and Justin Bieber was blasting and they explained that country would be playing during the surgery. So funny. I wanted to ask them if they were sure they didn't want classical music instead that encourages better concentration??? Just kidding, but seriously.

The anesthesiologist came in to administer the epidural which is a morphine chest block that they said wouldn't hurt going in, especially with the "I don't care medicine". Well, I should just know that I don't anything normal and they had a really hard time getting the needle in and numbing me up. It took a good 20 to 25 minutes of him shoving that needle all over in my back as the nurse cradled me and continued to apologize while I tried to be brave. But it hurt. Really bad. I just wanted them to get that gas mask on me and fast because the "I don't care medicine" did not work diddly...I definitely cared.

Next thing I knew they had the gas mask on me and I was out like a light. I was proud of how strong my parents were during this 5-6 hour surger because it would be no fun waiting. My mom said she only had one "wibbly" moment as she called it, where she got emotional and it was when they called her to say they were stopping my heart and putting me on bypass. That would be scary! I am glad I was blissfully unaware.

Surgery went just as planned and they were able to remove the device that was only working at 75% and leaking the other 25%. Here is a picture and you can kind of see on the edges where the tissue did not form...this is where the leak was occurring.

After surgery the doc came in with this thing in a urine specimen cup shaking it like a maraca. He was pretty proud of it and said he was adding it to his collection! Ha! I was thinking more of giving us a fund?? That thing was 17 thousand dollars pricey. Ya, right...that would never happen, but a girl can dream!

Waking up was about the least fun thing I have ever done. I don't know if you can tell from this picture:

but I am not a happy camper. The pain waking up was intense, even with the chest block. It doesn't completely numb like you think it would, but can't imagine what it would be like without it. Definitely would hurt a lot worse! So I can't complain. My throat hurt a lot from the intubation tube, but I was so happy I didn't wake up with that thing down my throat. I had a lot of anxiety about that and gratefully they are one of two hospitals in the country that don't leave it in. I couldn't speak really because of my throat and all that would come out were little squeaks. I would have done just about anything to have water, but I couldn't have it. They just swabbed my mouth and that honestly better nothing.

My nausea was out of control and I threw up about 5 times. I just can't explain what that feels like with a chest that has just been opened....just the epitome of how to be completely miserable. After a while we got me to stop throwing up and I was able to have a few ice was heaven.

I was so grateful to have the best ICU/Recovery nurse ever, Nicki. She took such good care and was so kind and compassionate. She definitely knew what she was doing and I really appreciated the care I received. We only had one mishap when the bed stopped working and I had to stand up and walk...on my first day. Secretly I think this is one of the better things that happened to help with my healing.

To be continued...


Ryan+Michelle+Ellie said...

SO glad that everything went well Chels! You are such a trooper!!! and so inspirational. I love you so much!

Jasmine said...

Chels I love you so much! You are so amazing and such an inspiration. And so are you're parents. You are all so brave. You have been on my mind and in my prayers constantly, good luck with the continuing recovery. luffs :)

Isaac said...

Am glad everything went well, you are such a soldier. we love you Chelsea, Stay strong!