Monday, 12 Weeks Post-Op

falling-behind

Looks like I’m falling w-a-y behind again.  That’s a pretty good thing since that means normal life is resuming.

When we started rehab, DH was the only student – now there are 5 and they seem to get along pretty well.  Slowly but surely, the challenges are getting greater.  Today (or soon) he will start using weights.

Today’s hav is 14 of 36, just over 1/3 of the way through.

He’s been driving pretty normally for a few weeks but still can’t walk the dog.  Maybe that will come after the weights get started.

We had our class with the dietician and there was only one other woman in the class so it was more of a private session.  At the end, 3 of the guys from Mended Hearts came in to see if we had questions.  One said that he liked having me in the meetings and talking about the role of the caregiver!  This is just not me, talking in any group!

Last week, we had out one-on-one with the dietician.  I’d pretty much already learned most of it from online and books but it was good to check.

This week, on Tuesday, we have a class on how the surgery is performed.  I’ve seen videos but it will be nice to see what they have to offer.  We can also observe a live surgery.  We’ll see!

Last week, on Tuesday, we had the privilege of attending a Congressional Caucus on Rare Diseases.  I took the opportunity (of course!) to say a few words about Cushing’s.  If you’re interested, my write-up is here:  Cushing’s on Capitol Hill.

I have an opportunity for a conference in San Francisco in June.  I happened to have airplane credits so I, without thinking, I got 2 tickets.  Hopefully, DH has the go-ahead to fly by then!

I’m amazed at how well things are going at the 3 month mark.  Hopefully, it’s smooth sailing from here on out!

Starting Cardiac Rehab

cardiac-rehab-fairfax

 

It’s started finally!   Tuesday, March 26, 2013 was DH’s first day in Cardiac Rehab, just over 8 weeks post-op.  This was an “intake appointment”, and much longer than the normal ones will be.

We got to choose when the future class would be – either Monday-Wednesday-Friday at 7:00 am or Monday-Wednesday-Thursday at 1:00pm.  Anyone who knows me knows that I chose the afternoon class.  I just didn’t want to get up that early and have to deal with early morning rush hour each of those days.

Diana, the intake nurse was very nice – in fact, everyone we met was.

First things first – money.  We found out that his insurance would pay for most but that there would be a $15 copay each session.  However, we did get a parking voucher saving us $5 on the parking garage.

Description unavailable

Description unavailable (Photo credit: pennstatenews)

We got a packet of information on all kinds of things, including food guides – what to eat, what not to eat.  Hooray!

I noticed a poster showing the image (right) for choosemyplate.gov.  I looked at that site when it first came out – and I’m looking again!

Diana was the one who set up the class times, as well.

Next was Claire, a nurse.  She checked all the meds and vitamins that DH takes.  She said that saw palmetto interfered with one of  his prescriptions and she suggested we take the list to CVS so that they can look for other interactions.

She did an EKG,  checked pulse in several locations, looked at the  scar, checked blood pressure on both arms (sitting and standing), listened to the carotids.

BP was  136/64 right,   112/60 left,   119/70 standing left.

She made an appointment with the dietician for Wednesday April 17 at  2:30, after a rehab class.

Turns out that there are patient meetings on the second Tuesday of each month.  We’re getting very busy with patient meetings, Mended Hearts and rehab plus doctor appointments!

 

They were out of t-shirts his size so we got one that was very large.  Another one will be forthcoming…sometime.

These shirts are special because they have a pocket for the portable EKG machine over the heart in addition to the obligatory logo on the back.  As luck would have it, DH was wearing a t-shirt with a pocket.

DH was hooked up to the EKG.  I gathered that he’ll do that himself in the future.

Next up – Shelly, an exercise physiologist.  She talked a bit, asked DH how often he got new shoes.  She said that it should be every 6 months.  Who knew?

She said to drink water every 15 minutes while exercising.

DH started off slow – Treadmill 5 minutes; Bike 15 minutes; Walked on indoor track for 4 laps

When he was done, we went to the Healthy Heart Cafe for a bit of lunch.

Wednesday, Day 2

We got there in plenty of time.  DH turned out to be the only person in this class, at least for now.

He did his exercises but was told he needed to eat breakfast in the future – his blood pressure was too low.

It’s becoming a habit – when he was done, we went to the Healthy Heart Cafe for another bit of lunch.

I had bought him a Groupon for a local garden shop as a Christmas gift.  Of course, I had no idea then that he wouldn’t be doing much gardening this year.  In any event, it was going to expire on March 30, so we went there after rehab and got a few things 🙂  They may all become house plants – we’ll see!

Absolute exhaustion by the time we got home.

Monday – Eight Weeks Post-Op

Monday

I’m happy to report that life continues to return to normal.

I was out walking the dog this morning, and it was snowy again.  The sidewalk was very slippery and it reminded me of that Monday two months ago when I was out with her and slipped and fell.  My shin still hurts a bit from that day.

DH has been out to several meetings and has won a court case – all without driving himself.  He’s still having to “pay” for a lot of activity by napping later.

He’s able to easily put on sweaters now that go over his head.

Tomorrow is our first rehab appointment.  We’re both looking forward to that for different reasons.  I’m eager to get my life back on a schedule.  He’s looking forward to being able to drive and become stronger.

We’re still mostly vegetarian.  I hope to get some food/cooking advice at the rehab meeting tomorrow.

DH went to church again yesterday for Palm Sunday, then we went out for breakfast again.  He’s found a healthy meal at a local restaurant without too much prodding.

He’s busy trying to find a timeshare in Japan that we could trade for although it will be a while before we could consider that kind of travel.

On the 20th, I had to make a very difficult decision.  There’s a Cushing’s Conference in Las Vegas next month.  I already had plane tickets but hadn’t registered for the conference or a hotel room.  I decided that I didn’t feel comfortable leaving DH alone for 5 days with a dog he couldn’t walk or a car he might not be able to drive.  I’m also just afraid to be away that long, just in case…

Hopefully, next week’s update will have more good news to report.

Monday – Seven Weeks Post-Op

Things are really getting more normal here as time goes on.  7 weeks ago, I never would have imagined it.

DH still can’t drive but he asked to borrow my car one day last week and I said NO.  Soon, though.

He’s able to put sweaters over his head now, a big improvement from a few weeks ago when he was cutting t-shirts in half and wearing 2, or using a safety pin to hold everything together.

Next Tuesday, March 26, he’ll go for his first cardiac rehab.  I don’t know if they schedule the “real” ones then, but this is more of an intake meeting and a test to see where he before he can get started.

I’ve started resuming my regular activities – on Saturday, I went to a 5-hour with no problem and I wasn’t spending my time worrying, either, although some mornings when he wakes up late, I’ll go check to be sure he’s breathing.


One thing I’ve done as part of our more healthy eating – I bought a soymilk maker.  I had one in my cart on amazon.com for a while, watching the price.  Then, one day, they didn’t offer it anymore.  I kept searching on amazon for several days and the next version became available.  I put that in my cart and watched.  On Wednesday, the price dropped to $119 – $20 less than the first one I’d wanted.  I jumped on that and ordered it Wednesday.  Thursday, it went back up to $139 so I played that right!

The soymilk maker arrived on Saturday and I made almond milk first.  Today, I have soybeans soaking right now and will make the first batch of soymilk in about an hour.

Bob's Red Mill

Bob’s Red Mill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just went on amazon to get a link to the one I got and found the price back to $119!  It comes with a small bag of Laura soybeans to get you started but I’d already ordered Bob’s Red Mill.

Yesterday, I was singing in the choir at church and DH decided to go along.  Before church, so many of the choir members and others went over to give him a big hug and say how well he looked.  During prayer request time, he stood up to thank the church for their prayers and folks started clapping.

After church, we decided to stop for breakfast in a newesh restaurant in the neighborhood.  While waiting in line, some neighbors also arrived.  They said they hadn’t seen either of us for a while.  I mentioned DH’s heart attack and it turned out that other man had had one too, about 15 years ago.  They had lots to talk about.  The other guy did a kind of at-home chelation which sounded a bit odd but it worked for him to remove calcium deposits.  It didn’t sound like anything I’d want to try!

This morning I was teaching piano and one of my students is the associate pastor of my church.  He said how powerful that DH stood up yesterday and demonstrated the power of prayer.

Not much else here – everything’s pretty normal except for not driving or walking the dog but those things will come.

Hooray!

Monday – Six Weeks Post-Op

day-mon

Another slow day.  The 3 walking events from last weekend were just too much for now.  In all three instances, they involved parking garages and it was cold.  I remember the visiting nurse saying to put a scarf over his nose to keep the air coming in a bit warmer but, of course, we didn’t have a scarf.

Someone had asked DH to meet at iHop tonight.  I weighed in and said that they should meet at Bob Evans because we knew that there was something there he could eat and we had no idea if there was anything at iHop.

The day slipped by in naps and DH never made the call.  His phone was off and he finally got the message that the person had been waiting for 30 minutes at iHop.  <sigh>

The dog got to go for a ride when we dropped DH off.

Fortunately, DH got a ride home so we didn’t have to go back out.  He said that I was right (of course!) – there wasn’t anything on the menu he could eat.  But he managed to cobble together something with fresh fruit, dry toast and herbal tea.  I thought the only fruit there was in those syrups.

day-wed

We had snow, sort of.  Big, heavy stuff that would have been good for a snowman but we weren’t going out, except for me walking the dog.

I was having a movie kind of day and heard someone out in the driveway, shoveling.  I went out to investigate and found two women from church clearing our driveway.  That was so nice 🙂  In a bit DH came out and said hello, too.

day-thurs

Thursday, I was into day 2 of an itchy cycle.  I haven’t written about that yet, so there’s something to look forward to!  As a result, I don’t do much of anything but itch and be miserable.  At night, I can take Benadryl which helps the itching and makes me sleep.

More on that later!

day-fri

Fridays, I normally play piano duets with an older friend but I hadn’t been since before Christmas.  I decided it was time to go back so I took DH along with me.  We all had a nice visit – we’ve known my friend and her husband for maybe 35 years.  She had a heart attack about 15 or so years ago so DH was able to ask lots of questions.

When we got back, it was nap time, again.  It’s still mostly do something followed by an equal length nap but it’s getting better.

day-sat

I had been awake until 4:30 am so I wasn’t in a great mood when I woke up.  DH wanted to go walking at the Mall – but first, a stop at Staples for more business cards.

I was already tired before we got to the Mall but we walked a bit.  Stopped in the Apple Store to look at iPad Minis, then turned around.  He went into Zales to get the ruby he didn’t get on the first day, the anniversary-heart-attack-day.

On the way out of the mall, he said we could go to Bob Evans for breakfast and I said no way!  Too tired.

day-sun

Back to Staples to pick up the cards from Staples, then on to walk around Wal-Mart.  DH looked longingly at no-salt peanuts.  I showed him the back with the calorie counts and pointed out the size of 1 serving and asked if he could stick to that.  He put them back.

Back home and more nap time.

He says he’s feeling better and better, has lost more weight, no more pain killers.  Hooray!

Monday – Five Weeks Post-op

day-mon

Today went pretty well.  DH did some computer work with an employee.  After about 2 hours, DH rested his eyes for a bit while the other guy finished up.

I took the opportunity to go out to do some grocery shopping.  Exciting stuff!

A few phone calls, then DH napped some more – a bit of computer and you know the rest!

Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies

Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometime before this adventure started, DH had ordered 2 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

Those arrived this evening and DH said he’d have “just one”.

I didn’t check how many he had but I saw that 4 (the typical serving size for Thin Mints) is 125 mg of sodium.  Possible trouble looming.

Maybe I’ll have to sacrifice myself and eat them all first 🙂

day-tues

Today was a pretty good day.  DH actually did some more work got a testimony ready to file, then some napping.  He went out with a friend to meet some others and actually had half a cup of coffee for the first time since surgery.

While he was out, I went to bell rehearsal to sub for someone else.  A very odd feeling to be subbing in my own group but they’re getting ready for a festival and someone has to ring my position – and it can’t be me.  I won’t be able to be away overnight for a while.

It was nice to be back, even briefly 🙂

day-wed

Up early in the morning for the stress test on the treadmill at the cardiologist.  I dropped DH off at the front door.  By the time I’d parked and gotten upstairs, he was already hooked up to the monitors but they wouldn’t let me go in.

Apparently, he passed with flying colors, all the way up to a 7% grade so he can start cardiac rehab as soon as we can get it set up!

On the way home, we saw my mom out walking so pulled over to say hello.  She was on her way to the library.  She had an appointment with her oncologist next Wednesday and she had been dithering about changing that in case DH’s rehab was on Wednesday mornings.  I told her not to change it – she might change TO the rehab date.  As it turned out, the oncologist had cancelled her.  Problem solved.

We decided to be brave and went to Bob Evans for breakfast.  DH did fairly ok with veggie omelet, egg beaters, fruit plate and dry whole wheat toast.  Another step in getting out into the real world again…

day-thurs

Last night didn’t go well.  I tossed and turned all night.  DH started trying to sleep in our room and went to the recliner about 1:00am, then back to the room about 4:00am.  About 8:00am he was in the recliner again so I guess he didn’t sleep well, either.

The day was like most days – a lot of napping and working.

DH called rehab and he can’t start for 2 weeks.  A bit disappointing 😦

I cleaned out our pantry and got rid of all the canned foods with sodium in them.  I took some to my mom, then took the rest to church to send to Western Fairfax Christian Ministries.

I went to church choir.  They’re getting ready for Holy Week and Easter so there’s lots of new music to learn.  I’m starting to feel less mole-like.

day-fri

Another lazy day.  We were going to go to the mall to walk but work and naps got in the way.

DH is sitting in his recliner listening to some app that will teach him Spanish.

Our son came home and DH actually went with me to Union Station to pick him up from the train.  I parked as close as I could so it was a short walk to the escalator, then another walk, another escalator and a longer walk.

DH was hungry so we went to get some Jamba Juice.  Even though the store was open, they said that they were cleaning up and closed.  DH went into Starbucks against my better judgement and got some kind of strawberry muffin thing.

On the way home, he wanted to go to McDonalds so I went through the drive-through and got 3 shamrock shakes, a grilled chicken sandwich for DH and a quarter pounder, no cheese for me.

Going out into the world is going to wreck all my careful food planning over the last 4 weeks!

day-sat
I woke up at 4:00am with a raging headache, possibly from that shamrock shake.  I’m not used to all that sugar any more 😦  It’s too bad – that’s about the only thing I really like(d) at Mickey D’s.  Oh, well.

At 11 we had our first Mended Hearts meeting.  That went pretty well.  I actually talked some – DH, of course, talked more.  I found it ironic that the snacks included no coffee but the raffle gift was a coffee cup.  HMMM…

It was good listening to other patients and caregivers talking about some of the issues we’ve gone through.

day-sun

 

Today was a take-it-easy day, a bit of TV, napping and playing piano duets with our son.  At night, we took him back to the train station.  Later, DH said that his chest was hurting a bit, probably from so much walking in the train today and Friday and the walking through the parking garage and hospital on Saturday.

Hopefully, a little Tylenol will help.

Next report next Monday…

Monday – Four Weeks Post-Op

This is the first of the timeline posts that I’m actually writing more or less as they happen!

day-mon

Last Monday, Feb 18 was the first visit with the cardiologist.  Getting there was a bit of a problem but the appointment itself went smoothly.

We got into the inner sanctum and a very nice nurse named Lisa took down DH’s info.  It worked out well that we hadn’t finished all the paperwork since she had lots of info fron the hospital, anyway.

She took DH’s blood pressure and oxygen levels (both good), then took the bags of meds and vitamins away for cataloging.

The doctor came in and asked some of the same questions as everyone else about how he was eating, sleeping, exercise, swelling, pain.  He listened to DH’s heart and lungs and everything sounded good.  He checked the legs for swelling…none.

We made 2 more appointments – one for a low-stress treadmill next week and one with him for three months out.  There’s also bloodwork to be done before the treadmill. After passing the treadmill test, DH can start rehab.  Yea!

When we got home, there was a call from the PCP’s lab.  DH called back but had just missed them.

day-tues
DH slept in the bed and out of the recliner for several hours last night.  Another step forward!

DH finally got through to the PCP’s lab and the cholesterol numbers were excellent.  Hooray!  Other numbers such as liver enzymes were good, too.

day-wed
DH did some work today, with several naps in between. I got the car taken care of. He got the disher unloaded and reloaded – with resting afterwards.

He decided to start off the night sleeping in bed and made it until about 4:00 am. He said that there was no pain but he would be more comfortable in the recliner.
day-thurs
DH spent most of the morning working (at home) on a proposal, then most of the afternoon napping.  Most of the pain seems gone – hooray! Evening there was a short meeting with a nap before and after.  Then, dinner and another nap before bed.

He started out for about an hour in bed, then back to the recliner for the rest of the night.

He doesn’t seem to cough nearly as much. Hooray!

day-fri

Friday through Sunday – lots of napping, trying to sleep or nap in the bed but usually winding up in the recliner.

day-sun

 

It was a nice day so we took the dog outside for a very short walk…followed by more napping.  DH is looking forward to the treadmill test on Wednesday so he can start the rehab soon.