Sharing my journey as I continue my recovery from a quadruple heart bypass. It has been an interesting few weeks.
My father, who lives back in England, messaged me to say he had been to hospital for tests which eventually had identified that he too had coronary heart disease and blocked arteries! Fortunately his condition has been less severe than mine and he has now had stents inserted in to his arteries to relieve the blood flow...
It was a strange feeling to find that out and to talk with him just as I am getting back to normal after my heart bypass. Naturally there is a family connection here but it was more about the fact that, despite my own recent discovery, his condition had gone unnoticed; but also that he hadn’t gone to get checked...
I have had mixed emotions after all of this. First the heartache and concern for my Dad, then the frustration that he hadn't taken my experience as a prompt to get a check up; and then the shock that this just happened after all I have been through. There can't be more pain for us all, surely?
Then it was my birthday and I had a great time with my wife and kids and enjoyed the FaceTime and messages with my extended family. Now my birthdays tend to be a magnet for all kinds of issues and challenges usually so I really enjoyed this being a calm and peaceful time. I did take a private moment over the weekend to be grateful for the fact that I had survived and was still here to enjoy this moment.
I am back at work full time now and as I have written about in the past, I am needing to be very focussed to define and stick to my new boundaries. The pressure at this time is still from the old me, expecting more of myself, pushing harder, doubting whether working 8 hours is really enough...But the time I had away in recovery was enough to break those old habits and this time I think I might just be able to do it!
Four months after surgery and I finally spoke with a Nurse at the hospital's Cardiac Recovery unit. Yet again the pandemic has had an impact but it is easy to be patient and understanding when you see what these people are doing for us in the Healthcare.
We had a good discussion and made the obvious connection to work stress and my heart disease. It was good to have a “professional” remind me again to take it easy and not to go back to those old habits that I have been working on. Today's call was from the hospital's Physio and we worked through some fitness and strength strategies that I can work on to help my body recover from the trauma of the surgery and to restore strength to my chest and broken sternum.
The Physio advised me that all exercise is good for heart recovery and for me to be aiming for 30 minutes a day of walking or other exercise that raises my heart rate. An important note is that I take medication to slow down my heart rate and blood pressure and therefore I have to moderate my exercise to allow for that artificial suppression so that I don't cause any new damage.
But it is still my leg, where they took the replacement arteries from, which is causing me the most discomfort. Four months on and it is still swollen, almost twice the thickness of my other "normal" leg. The swelling is due to the body having to rebuild the local cardiovascular system, building new blood vessels to move the blood around. As a result the pain and swelling will move during the day and in the evening affect my ankle.
Elevating my leg seems to work a little but I have taken physio advice too and I now have a series of stretching and extending exercises to do to alleviate the swelling and get the blood moving again.
Someone asked me today how I was doing physically and emotionally. It was a great question because it made me think. My answer was this...
I am physically transformed from the man I was before surgery but emotionally is where In think I have made the most gains in my life.
I truly mean that...from the heart.