This is part 2 of the original post My Double Bypass Heart Surgery Experience.
Getting to come home after any length of stay in a hospital is a wonderful feeling. It’s just so much nicer and more comfortable if you can continue your recovery in your own home surrounded by those you love. Because we live in a two story house, we decided it would be better for me to start recovery at home at my mom’s house. By the time I arrived home she had me a recliner all set up with a little table beside it and she, my grandmother, my husband and my son were literally at my service and ready to help at all times.
Physically, what I wasn’t prepared for once I got home was that you will not be able to lay down in your own bed for a long time because it’s just too uncomfortable. I started out sleeping in a small recliner that was easy for me to adjust myself in. It was around week four before I could move to an actual bed, and even then I had to have a ton of pillows propped up behind me and still couldn’t lay flat. I’m currently at week 6 of my recovery and still require lots of pillows and I sleep propped up. The best thing in the world that really helps is this arm pillow.
I prop two more pillows in front of this arm pillow and it’s enough to make me comfortable enough to rest.
The resting is another thing. I have gone from sleeping normally from 11:00 PM and getting up at 5:00 AM to start my day to not being able to get any good sleep. I can’t fall asleep until around 3:45 AM now and sleep until almost 11:00 AM. It’s getting a little better, but the not being able to sleep at night was very frustrating at first.
However, what was worse than not being able to sleep was the emotional aspect of having heart surgery. I went from a very independent, hard-working librarian, mom and wife to a very helpless individual all in a matter of hours and this is what I have had the toughest time with. I’ve cried nearly every day since arriving home. I hate asking for help, so of course being helpless made me cry. I cried because I didn’t want to be a burden on anyone. I cried because I wouldn’t be able to decorate our home and go all out for the holidays. I cried because I was worried I would die in my sleep at night. I cried because I missed my dad, something the holidays only made worse. I cried because I couldn’t do anything but sit in a recliner and I was bored. I cried because this recovery is slow. I cried because I would Google “double bypass heart surgery” and fear that I didn’t have too many more years to live now. I’m still struggling with all of the wondering about all of this. Heart surgery didn’t cure my Coronary Artery Disease and now I have to find a way to make better lifestyle choices every single day. That in and of itself is quite overwhelming.
Having to slow down is tough when you are used to your routine. I really think I imagined I would bounce back very quick from this and it was sobering to have my surgeon explain to me that I probably won’t even feel 100% like myself for a few months. I will be starting cardiac rehab this week to help me build my strength back so I can hopefully start feeling better all around. So, how do I feel as of now? I can complete small tasks around the house. I can shower and dress myself now. My chest is the only thing bothering me, and not because of the incision or the scar, but because of the sternum healing. It feels like my chest weighs about 100 pounds and I am still numb in some spots right near the incision. It’s a weird feeling. I also added several more medications to my usual two a day. I added about 5 more prescriptions to my daily regimen. I’ve had to get up each day and eat a good meal and remember to take them all. I finally had to go and buy one of those fun little pill boxes that has the AM and PM slots. I didn’t anticipate having to do that in my 40’s.
Overall, I am just extremely grateful to be here. I’m grateful that the surgery went well, that I was able to come home, and for an amazing family and small group of friends who have been so supportive and so helpful and understanding. My husband has been my absolute rock through all of this and he has really fulfilled his marital vows to love me in sickness. He has gone above and beyond to comfort me and do anything in the world I ask of him, and even some things I don’t ask. My mom and grandmother have been my nurses and housekeeper and helped me get my son up and off to school each day and still put up with my crying and frustration. I am so thankful for them, too. I really don’t know how anyone goes through something like this alone. I am so grateful I haven’t had to.
I plan to continue to update on my progress here on the blog.