I’m on POD 47 so a little over 6 weeks. Immediately post op in the ICU My BP crashed and the Curly shuffle ensued. The surgeon walked in at 5 AM and asked me “how ya doing” I told him I need blood, and a few minutes later it hit the fan. They worked on me for 5 hours and finally the guy gave me blood and I stabilized. When he saw me later he said “I wish I had listened to you in the first place”. I find that hilarious. It’s a subtle anesthesiologist/surgeon kind of thing. And after standing toe to toe with these guys for 35 years it’s rare I’m wrong. I’m not knocking this guys skills, I consider him a minor god, but I was already doing anesthesia the same year he was going to his Prom
The ensuing Curly shuffle bought me an extra 35 lbs of edema. If you don’t think it’s a bitch getting out of bed or a chair post sternotomy with an extra 35 lbs strapped to you think again. My albumin dropped to 2 indicating I was under significant metabolic stress. The food was horrible mostly carbs, and healing is made out of protein so like Lynard Skynard: “I did what I could do” and 6 weeks out my albumin is over 4 with resolution of the metabolic component. at 16 days I was actually catabolic and loosing weight beyond the edema but at home I was finally able to get complete control of my diet and level off. I felt like a dive bomber diving into the ground and pulling up at the last minute, but the plane held together and pull up I did.
I managed to get an infection in the saphaneous canal where they harvest the vein. The C&S was unknown at that point. but likely staph so I started on Augmentin . It blew up over night literally. I was measuring the circumference of my leg and it grew an inch in a day. I DID NOT want to go back in the hospital. It would have been a week admission, so I called up my surgeon buddy who brought me to his office on a Sunday and Incised and Drained the saphenous canal. Got about 40 cc out, got a culture. I proceeded to drain more over the next 2 weeks. The bug was Proteus Mirabilis a gram neg rod so it had potential for very bad juju. I got on the right antibiotic and things have deffervesced nicely, but the infection made me quite ill. I’m also on a anti arrhythmic amiodarone for afib and I swear that stuff is rat poison. A-fib is common post op and the amio converted me but I’ve been in perfect sinus for a month so the pathway swelling has likely subsided so I’m starting a taper on the amio. Tapering is proof God loves me, I would hate to be on that stuff permanently. I’d probably opt for a pace maker instead.
6 weeks is the magic number for driving. The sternum can take 24 months to completely heal, and I can tell my manubrium is not well healed especially on the right (common) so I still have to watch my P’s and Q’s about things like lifting heavy weights, but “I’ll do what I can do”. My surgery included a LIMA to the LAD, so the right internal mammary is still in situ and should aid in healing.
I went to see my surgeon today and he discharged me 2 weeks early because of the progress I’ve made. I’ve been reviewing recovery times and this is going to be a 6 month deal at least. I’ve been doing twice a day workouts to total 40 minutes various activity prescribed by PT and have seen good progress. Yesterday I did 30 min. continuous aerobic exercise at a HR of 150 and had normalized my post workout BP in 3 minutes. Long way to go till I’m back in shape, this incident knocked it out of me, but it will come, totally worth it since I have a 55% EF and a normal echo. On the way home I took my wife out for lunch at a rib joint. We had a great time. The market is up and life goes on!