Monday – 3 Weeks Post-op

I’ve decided to do a sort of timeline in case anyone is interested.  This is all from memory so future posts should be more accurate.

Week Zero, January 28, 2013 was the actual CABG surgery.  The hospital experience  can be found here.

DH came home on Thursday of that week and the first visiting nurse arrived on Saturday. Luckily, DS was able to stay until Sunday and he was a big help.

DH wasn’t allowed to lift any more than 5 pounds, so couldn’t raise himself out of bed.  He slept on a recliner in the living room and either DS or I slept on the sofa in case he needed any meds or help during the night.

Week One, February 4, 2013, one week from surgery.

The visiting nurse came twice and is pleased with wound healing.  Blood pressure is sometimes low.  The nurse thought he should have more fluids.  One lobe of the lung isn’t working to capacity and she wants more use of the incentive spirometers.  DH has two types from the hospital – the traditional one and one that our dog thinks looks like a dog toy that she should have.

incentive spirometer

Week Two, February 11, 2013 two weeks from surgery.  DH continues to lose weight.  He’s still sleeping in the recliner and I’m still on the sofa but there is much less getting up at night.

The Oxycodone is down to half pills much less often than prescribed.

The first (and only) visit to the surgeon’s office this week.  We saw her nurse practitioner who was very impressed with how DH is doing as was his PCP.  The nurse practitioner was so pleased, she said we don’t have to go back unless there are any problems.

The PCP ran blood tests, glucose, liver enzymes, cholesterol and others.

We saw the visiting nurse twice.  She thought DH was doing so well that she discharged him on Thursday.

DH made a few phone calls this week, worked a little, had a visitor on Sunday.

Week Three, February 18, 2013, three weeks from surgery

DH slept in the bed for half the night last night and seems to be doing ok.  He still took a half Oxycodone this morning.

We see the cardiologist this afternoon.  That report will be in the Week Four post. I imagine that we’ll be talking about rehab at this appointment.

Weeks Four and Beyond will have their own posts.

More on CABG (Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting)

From the NIHWhat To Expect After Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

Checkmark
What DH had

Recovery in the Hospital

CheckmarkAfter surgery, you’ll typically spend 1 or 2 days in an intensive care unit (ICU). Your health care team will check your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels regularly during this time.

CheckmarkAn intravenous (IV) line will likely be inserted into a vein in your arm. Through the IV line, you may get medicines to control blood flow and blood pressure. You also will likely have a tube in your bladder to drain urine and a tube in your chest to drain fluid.

CheckmarkYou may receive oxygen therapy (oxygen given through nasal prongs or a mask) and a temporary pacemaker while in the ICU. A pacemaker is a small device that’s placed in the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heart rhythms.

CheckmarkYour doctor also might recommend that you wear compression stockings on your legs. These stockings are tight at the ankle and become looser as they go up the legs. This creates gentle pressure that keeps blood from pooling and clotting.

CheckmarkWhile in the ICU, you’ll also have bandages on your chest incision (cut) and on the areas where arteries or veins were removed for grafting.

After you leave the ICU, you’ll be moved to a less intensive care area of the hospital for 3–5 days before going home. (only 2!)

Recovery at Home

Your doctor will give you instructions for recovering at home (yes to all), such as:

  • How to care for your healing incisions
  • How to recognize signs of infection or other complications
  • When to call the doctor right away
  • When to make followup appointments

You’ll also learn how to deal with common side effects from surgery. Side effects often go away within 4–6 weeks after surgery, but may include:

  • Discomfort or itching from healing incisions
  • Swelling of the area where arteries or veins were removed for grafting
  • Muscle pain or tightness in the shoulders and upper back
  • Fatigue (tiredness), mood swings, or depression
  • Problems sleeping or loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Chest pain at the site of the chest bone incision (more frequent with traditional CABG)

Full recovery from traditional CABG may take 6–12 weeks or more. Nontraditional CABG doesn’t require as much recovery time.

Your doctor will tell you when you can become active again. It varies from person to person, but there are some typical timeframes.

Often, people can resume sexual activity and return to work after about 6 weeks. Some people may need to find less physically demanding types of work or work a reduced schedule at first.

Talk with your doctor about when you can resume activity, including sexual activity, working, and driving.

Ongoing Care

Care after surgery may include periodic checkups with doctors. During these visits, you may have tests to see how your heart is working. Tests may include an EKG (electrocardiogram), stress testingechocardiography, and a cardiac CT scan.

CABG is not a cure for coronary heart disease (CHD). After the surgery, your doctor may recommend a treatment plan that includes lifestyle changes. Following the plan can help you stay healthy and lower the risk of CHD getting worse.

Lifestyle changes might include changing your diet, quitting smoking, being physically activelosing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing stress.

For more information about lifestyle changes, go to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s “Your Guide to Living Well With Heart Disease.”

Your doctor also may refer you to cardiac rehabilitation (rehab). Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program that helps improve the health and well-being of people who have heart problems.

Cardiac rehab includes exercise training, education on heart healthy living, and counseling to reduce stress and help you return to an active life. Your doctor can tell you where to find a cardiac rehab program near your home.

Taking medicines as prescribed also is important after CABG. Your doctor may prescribe medicines to manage pain during recovery, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce the risk of blood clots forming, manage diabetes, or treat depression.

The Beginning

This blog was started to keep track of my DH’s experiences with triple bypass.

I can’t find a lot of info on the web about what we should be eating (or not eating) since the diet is supposed to be low-sodium, low-fat/cholesterol and low-sugar.  What is truly left?

So, this blog will be a record for us of what’s working, what’s not and helpful recipes, tips, videos and so on that I find along the way.


January 27, 2013 was our 40th anniversary.  DH called me and said he was leaving a conference in Washington, DC and we’d go out to brunch when he got home.

The next thing I had heard was that he was in the ER with a suspected heart attack.  I rushed to the ER and found him in his cubicle.  He’d had 3 nitroglycerine pills by then and figured he could go home.

Wrong!  They had him stay overnight at the hospital.  January 28th, they decided to send him by ambulance to Fairfax Hospital for a cardiac catheterization and possible stent.

At the end of that, the surgeon came into my waiting room and said that he needed triple bypass NOW.  Three of the arteries were 100% blocked.  They got me calmed down to see him in the OR.

He was trying to get odds of not doing this surgery and just leaving then.  Finally, I said that he would do this surgery, we weren’t going to fool with this.

I really lost it when they asked me if we had any children and I said 1 son in NYC.  They called him at work in New York and had him get there as soon as possible.  I’m sure he could her the fear in my voice.

They wheeled DH off for surgery and I waited again.  Luckily, 2 church friends came and sat with me and our pastor arrived about 8:00PM.  DS arrived about 8:30PM after taking the Acela and a taxi directly to the hospital.

The surgery was over about 9:00PM but when we saw Tom, he was still under anasthesia.  They kept him that way until the next morning since he was too confused when they woke him up.

Long story short (too late!) – he got out of the hospital on the 31st and I have been playing nurse 24/7.  Today was the first time he went out – for an X-ray and to see the surgeon.  He can’t drive/go anywhere for 6 weeks, and then there will be 12 weeks of cardiac rehab.  Maybe, when that time comes, he can drive himself.

In the meantime, I’m not going anywhere except to CVS for meds.. and I still need that anniversary brunch!