It’s been just over six months since my quadruple heart bypass surgery and my recovery continues.
I am currently enrolled on the cardiac rehabilitation program provided by the Mazankowski Hospital. As before the support continues to be valuable and in recent weeks I have had several telephone consultations from nurses and occupational therapists. Normally these would have been in person appointments where my condition could have been assessed physically but with the pandemic those cannot happen. We have discussed both my physical and mental health and any symptoms or reactions to my ongoing exercise plan.
My leg continues to be the source of my pain and discomfort. It is still swollen around the areas where the arteries were transplanted to my heart. The pressure in my calf builds throughout the day, especially when I have been sitting (at work) and results in a tingling sensation or even sharp pain at times.
The advice from the program is that this could be a sign of the nerves repairing from the trauma of the surgery. The ongoing swelling is likely due to the ongoing rebuilding of new arteries and veins in my leg. I am told that this can take up to a year post surgery to heal fully.
I recently had a “stress test” again. I was strapped to heart and pulse reading sensors and then had to walk and jog on a treadmill at increasing speeds and incline. You have to call out on a 1 to 20 scale, how you are feeling in terms of exertion and they use the resulting data from the heart sensors to establish what your heart rate is when approaching the limits of your physical ability.
Amazingly I did not fail this time like I did last year and the data suggested that a range of 100-120 bpm (beats per minute) was my new target heart rate.
With this heart rate target established I then met with the Hospital physio for a fitness and strength assessment. This session was structured to see what type of exercise I needed to do to be able to reach my new target heart rate. It felt good to be able to beat his expectations and to push the speed limits of the treadmill (set for me!) to get closer to my targets.
From there we did some stretching exercises, similar to those I was previously doing and then some basic weight training. So I now have a new plan that combines walking at various distances and speeds, stretching exercises and some weight training. The idea is to do around 30-40 minutes of exercise a day and then build from there.
The cardiac rehabilitation program also provides a series of webinars, replacing the usual classroom sessions, that I have been attending each week. I seem to have been late to these information sessions as they are aimed at patients who have just had their surgery.
The sessions cover mental health, how to eat healthily, how to start exercising again and how to manage medication and pain. I can see how helpful that they would been at that time in my recovery too.
Despite this post surgery care coming late in the day, I still count myself lucky to have been supported by these wonderful, dedicated people.
For those who are about to start their journey of medical care and the recovery that follows, I hope that by sharing my personal experience this way it might help you and give you some hope.
I mean that from the heart.