4 Weeks since Surgery

Hey I’ve survived 4 weeks and my first full week of Cardiac Rehab!

The exercise every morning feels really good now that I’m getting use to it.  My rehab class is M-W-F mornings at the hospital for about 45 minutes.  There are 7 of us, all men, that are there each day.  I’m almost the youngest, there is one other gentleman that is a younger than me.  I would guess that he is probably in his late 30’s.  He too had open heart surgery in early July.  The rest of the crew are probably all in their late 60’s or older.  All the older guys have had bypass surgery or stints, so most of them (maybe all of them) just had surgery through their femoral artery (in the groin).  Which by the way still hurts.

I have been going for about a 1/2 hour walk through the neighborhood on Tues-Thurs morning when I get up and before I settle into my office.  Tracie and I have been going for an evening stroll every night for about another 1/2 hour or so.  As I get my strength back to 100, we will push that evening walk a little longer, my legs just cant take it yet.

The remainder of the pain is really only tightness and pressure now related with the healing of my sternum.  I only need to take an occasional tylenol when I go to bed, so that I get a good nights sleep.

I have a follow up appointment with Dr. Denney on the 25th.  I do know that I will get my flu shot at that time.  I have never gotten a flu shot, but he is saying that I must get one this year.  He has not mentioned anything yet about the H1N1 Swine Flu shot yet, but will probably have to get that also when it is available in October.

I worked my first Volleyball matches for UNK last weekend (Fri-Sat), and have the first Football Games this Weekend.  Kearney HS has a game Friday, and UNK has their home opener on Saturday against NE-Omaha.  I can sit comfortably in the pressbox, and never have to exert much energy, so don’t worry that I’m pushing too hard, too fast.

Well speaking of work, I still have a lot of work to get through for Heartland Hosting, so I’m going to end for now.

Back to work, PART-TIME!

As I reach the three week mark (tomorrow), I’m gaining more strength every day.  I was back at my desk this morning, but only for a couple hours at a time.  It was good to be back at my desk, and the chest pain is still quite manageable.  I took a short afternoon nap.

I start my cardiac rehab in the morning tomorrow.  I’m anxious to get going with Jed (my therapist), and eventually get back to 110%.  I’m sure that I will feel better than ever.

The kids started back to class this morning, so I’m back to being all alone again.  It will be a bit of a nuisance until I can drive again.  Dr. Bibler had said that I would not be able to drive at least until the 4-week mark.  So hopefully, I’ll get my keys back next week.

I was out for a nice walk on Friday around the UNK Campus, and then Tracie, Lindsay and I took a neighborhood walk last night.  Today was too hot, so I didn’t attempt to go tonight.  I’m hoping to get back on my bicycle in another 4 weeks or so.  I know it is too early at this point, since I can’t put any undue pressure on the sternum.  I will also need to change my diet, along with the new exercise regimen.  But one step at a time.  By the way, alot of you have mentioned that I look thinner, I have lost 25 pounds.  I’m down to 201, so Dr. Jensen can’t say I’m not “obese” any longer, now I’m just “overweight.”   Since I’m not growing any taller, I still need to lose another 20 pounds. 😉

…getting stronger!

Feeling ALOT Better

Hi Everyone.  Sorry I haven’t been very active in posting anything here this week.  I know everyone is wondering how I have been doing.

Since my last post, I have been outside a couple times to visit the Kearney Clinic to have my Coumadin levels tested.  They have a test called a PT/INR, that checks the clotting ability (thickness) of my blood.  Coumadin keeps my by blood thin enough so that it will still clot if I start to bleed, but not so thick that it will collect on my new mechanical valve in my heart.  They want me to maintain a constant level between 2.5 to 3.5.  Currently my doctor has me taking 5mg and 6mg of Coumadin alternating every day, 5 then 6, then 5 every day at 4:00, etc.

I am able to get up and down the stairs on my own (albeit slowly), but at least I am not feeling “trapped” in the basement any longer.  I was able to sit on the deck Tuesday evening and eat dinner outside.  The weather has been lovely, very “un-summer like” this week, but is expected to heat back up this weekend.

I had a terrible bout over the past weekend with constipation, but medicine helped to clear that up after a few days and some pretty intense pain.  Thankfully that has passed, and not bothering me any longer.

I have another procedure this morning to check the functionality of my new valve this morning.  The procedure is called a valve fluoroscopy, and will take about 90 minutes in the cath lab. 

I will probably update again later today.

Friday – end of wk 1

Well, I have made it through the week.  It’s getting really old to just sit in this recliner all day, and I’m really hopefull that tomorrow we might be able to make an attempt to venture upstairs, and maybe even outside.

The weather has been fairly warm all week, and it’s actually a lot cooler in the basment anyway, I just miss seeing out the windows.  Almost feels like prison, albeit self imposed.

I’ve got the full beard growing, as I’m a bit psyched about shaving just yet.  Tracie asked me if I would use an electric razor, and I might consider it if it were a better razor.  I actually have a three-head Remmington, that  doesn’t work very well.  It may be just that it is old (and dull), but anytime I use it I get a rash on my neck and it hurts for a couple days.  My skin is supersensitive, and it seems to just “rip” the whiskers out, and not cut them.  Anyway, I don’t really like the beard, so I may end up shaving soon.

Lauren came over around lunch, and we both got a chance to take a nap.  Lauren was really tired, and probably needd the rest more than me.

I think the construction is done on the front porch, and now we just need to get the concrete curbing done, and then replant the bushes.  I haven’t seen anything yet, but am looking forward to see the difference it makes when all finished.

I have two follow appointments scheduled with my medical team.  On the 18th I will see Dr. Denney, and then Dr. Bibler on the 25th.  I think afterwards I will start my rehabilitation at the hospital.  I still get the “shakes” quite badly when I exert myself at all, even just a little bit.  I’m not sure what is causing the problem, but it is frustrating.  When I start to tremble, it only lasts a few minutes, but it is totally uncontrollable.  I plan to ask Dr. Denney about this when I see him.  Nobody at the hospital could explain it, when it was happening there.

Well, this is the latest I’ve been up all week, so I think I’m going to head to bed.  TTYL.  XXXOOO

Meds, Meds, Meds

I’m plugging away slow but steady.  I’m really not in any hurry to feel better faster yet though.  I’m contented to take each day slowly, and take what it gives me.  I am a bit tired of being coupled up in the basement, and would like the fresh air, but it’s been really hot anyway.

In addition to the Coumadin, which I’ll take forever, I’m taking another 10 different meds, some twice daily, some only once, and one three times a day.  The pain pills I am taking every 4 hours, and the effect doesn’t seem to be lasting as long.  So by the time the next 4 hours passes, my chest is starting to hurt.  It’s most painful at night btetween doses.  It takes about 20-30 minutes for it to take effect.  I should be done with most of the meds by the end of next week.

Sternal Precautions

You don’t realize how much pressure you put on your sternum, until you can’t.  It’s really difficult to keep at the top of your awareness, not to push, or pull, or lift.  Everything has to be done with your legs.   It even hurts to lay on my side at night.  And of course chest laying is completely out of the question.

Tomorrow is another day.

Thursday Night

Dad said he didn’t feel much like posting, he is tired. Adam, Joel and I got back from Kansas City today. Dad was glad we went and had some fun, and he was right, it was nice to get out of town. Not much eventful went on today, tonight we ate some tacos and nachos and watched Big Brother. Dad seems to be in some sort of a routine, he has taken a shower at home a few times. The shower chair grandpa brought over works great. Otherwise Dad walks around the basement a little bit, to the bathroom and back is what he said. He is still tired and resting a lot. But his body has taken a bill toll, it takes time to heal.

Dad will post tomorrow when he feels up to it. Keeping him away from the computer is good though. Love, Lauren

Day One – Day Two

After two full days home and two nights of rest is my own bed, I’m gaining strength each day.  I was so eager to eat home cooking, but I think my tastebuds are still on hospital time.


I had a pretty good nights sleep on Sunday evening, with just one minor bump during the night.  Sometime around 3:45 I awoke needing to take my pain pills, but had forgot to set them bedside before going to sleep.  So thinking I could just sit up and go out in the other room, I attempted to get out of bed.  Easier asid than done, when you are half asleep.  I struggled to get my feet over the edge of the bed and then even more trouble setting up.  After “rocking 1-2-3”, I tried to sit up.  I didn’t quite make it and fell over in bed on my left shoulder, which compressed my chest.  That hurt quite badly.  I laid there with my feet over the edge, and my head resting on Tracie for about 20 minutes, before I could manage to finally get set up.  Then I stood up and got my pills.  After taking the pills and getting back in bed, I woke Tracie and she got me tucked in, and told me not to try that again.

Lauren came by after Tracie went off to work, to make sure I got up OK.  She got me situated in my recliner, and then she and Adam left for WOF/OOF in Kansas City.  The kids had planned their trip before my surgery, and I insisted that they still go and have some FUN, before getting back to classes in a couple weeks.

After some Corn Flakes for breakfast, most of the morning I just lounged around, watching my favorite FOX News.  Susan stopped by to see me in the morning, and mom came by shortly after lunch.  Then the “FUN” began.  We have been waiting for a few weeks for a construction crew to come by the house to break up the front walkway and stoop.  I was really hoping that they would come by when I was in the hospital.  No luck, they showed up yesterday with their JACKHAMMERS!

I had mom get me positioned in bed with everything I might need, until the end of the afternoon.  I put my headphones on, with the radio blaring, closed the door, and put a pillow over my head.  I could still hear the noise, but was eventually able to get to sleep.  By the time I woke, they had finished.  Thank Goodness. for small things.

Tracie fixed me a hot dog for dinner, and it really tasted good.  I also had a bowl of jello and juice.  Dad and Donna came over for a little visit after they closed the shop.

I got a comfortable shower and off to bed.


An even better nights sleep on Monday evening.  Preplanning with the pain pills and water allowed me just to sit up and take my pills.  Tracie was up with me over night to make sure all was allright.  Tracie gets up early to get ready for work, so she gave me another dose of pain pills before I got up, and back to my place on the recliner.

Susan stopped by early and needed some help, which I was able to accomplish, while she was in my office chair.  I grabbed another quick catnap before mom came by around noon.  The construction crew was back, pounding and drilling this time.  Not as bad as yesterday.  I had a bowl of fresh fruit for lunch, which tasted really good.

After Lunch, I took a much longer nap about 2 hours.  Tracie got home from work and gave me my coumadin pills which I have to take for the rest of my life.  They thin my blood so that it doesn’t clot on the new valve.  That would not be good to have a clot after all this.

Tracie got a small pizza for us to share for dinner.  I had one small piece before getting full.  Now I’m really tired having been up for about 4 1/2 hours. So I think I’m call it a day, and get my shower and then to bed.  Been coughing a little tonight, and that really hurts.

Good Night everyone.  I love you guys!

Back home today

This will be a short post, before I go to bed for the night.  I was released from Good Samaritan this afternoon at about 2:00, after spending only 5 days in the hospital.

It is truly amazing what I have been through this week.  I will post more thoughts beginning tomorrow, but I grateful beyond words that Dr. Jensen heard this problem, and sent me to get it checked out.  When you fully understand the procedure, that I had done tuesday morning, It is had to comprehend that I walked out of the hospital under my own power at 2:00.

My medical team was remarkable!  Dr. Bibler was nothing short of the consumate professional, explaining everything every step of they way.  And to all the nurses from the morning I checked in, through today, were so helpful, and made it possible for me get out as fast as I did.

I am thankful beyond words for all the prayers, comments to this blogsite, and especially to my kids for keeping everyone informed.  I have had many visitors, which I cannot express properly how much it meant to me for them to come by and see me. A special thanks to Susan Barta for talking care of the needs of my customers that really couldn’t wait.  Susan, I really proud of how far you have come in the past year.

Last but not least Timothy Loewenstein, who looked after me like a business partner.  I trust Tim like a senior partner, even though we are not really business partners.  Tim has been helpful “above and beyond”, even though there was no “call of duty”.  Thank you my dear freind.

Finally, to my wife, Tracie who at my bedside every minute she could be, keeping me focused, and positive.  I LOVE YOU!

At Home!

Dad is at home, sitting in the recliner chair, watching TV. It is so nice to have him home and I am sure it feels good to be home. I went up to visit him this morning and the talk was still that he may be able to go home. Before I left to go to work the Doctor came in to undress his incision and take one last look. Before he left the room he said he was finishing up his paperwork. Mom said he was home around 2:30pm. Mom went to fill his perscriptions and we had to organize his pill boxes, one marked AM, one marked PM. For about 2 weeks he will be on some other meds besides his Coumadin.

Grandpa brought Dad a shower chair to help him out in the bathroom. It is actually pretty handy. Half of the chair sits outside the tub shower, he can sit on the edge of it, swing his legs around and over the edge of the tub. It is really handy. Taking a shower kind of exhausts dad, but feels refreshing.

Dad said he is going to try and post soon, possibly tonight, although we want him to stay away from the computer since he is always on it! No work Dad! Keep in touch, ask dad any questions about his surgery. He is sure used to it by know. Love you all.


Kim and Tim

Kim and Tim arrived in town a couple of hours ago around 11:00 am to see Dad. They came up with Grammie in their new nice “cash for clunkers” ride. Nice to see them visit. Dad was glad to see them as well and appreciated that they made the drive. For lunch he had parmesan chicken, green beans, pickled beets and some fruit. For once it tasted good, actually ate a good portion.

Dr. Bibler came up to talk with Dad today. He finally got to draw his operation on his pillow. It’s called the “Bentall Procedure.” It was first described in 1968 by Hugh Bentall and is your standard treatment for valve disease. The normal surgery time takes 3-5 hours, and Dad was right within that window. I posted a link above where the Texas Heart Institute describes their patients. Most in depth one I could find. -Adam

Kim, Tim and Grammie with Dad