Tag Archive | open heart surgery

The Road To Recovery

As I drove home from an unsuccessful cardiac rehabilitation session, I was reminded how many times I have been on the road to recovery. With more than 15 plus surgeries, you would think I would get used to the fact that I am never ‘normal’ and whatever is ‘normal’ when someone is recovering is probably not going to be my experience because of the many different circumstances that I’ve endured. I’m complicated and therefore my recovery requires tweaks that aren’t per the usual.

I don’t know why I would assume things would go smoothly this time around when they haven’t ever really been that way in the past. But I did, which probably explains the tears of frustration on the ride home from what should have been my first ‘workout’ since the open heart surgery to replace my deformed aortic valve.

Long story short, due to my lymph node removal from the breast cancer surgeries, taking my blood pressure requires that it’s done on my leg and not the usual arm. But the cardiac rehabilitation people weren’t used to doing it that way. I encounter this often, so I am used to teaching them how to put the cuff on my leg and taking my blood pressure. But for whatever reason, every time they took my blood pressure it was sky high – once it showed 208/117 which if you know anything about blood pressure, this is super duper high. Because during the rehab session, the nurses need to take your BP a total of 4 times, this wouldn’t work since I couldn’t even get a decent reading to begin any type of exercise.

As any breast cancer survivor who has had many (or all) lymph nodes removed in both arms, blood pressure readings can’t be done in the usual way on your arm because of the threat of lymphedema. Therefore it’s taken on your lower leg. But I’ve learned that when you take the BP on your leg, the numbers are usually higher. Cardiac rehab requires your blood pressure to be under a certain number in order to begin the workout. Mine, as you can imagine, is not within range.

I get a certain ‘white coat syndrome’ every once in awhile when I’m going for my twice yearly tumor marker check up with the oncologist and my blood pressure can spike, but after the blood draw, it usually subsides. I’m not good with blood draws or needles of any kind. I tend to almost faint which isn’t fun. Not for the clinician, nor for me. You’d think I’d be used to it by now being that it’s been part of my routine for over 20 years, but my body has her own mind and does what she wants. Now that I know it’s a heart thing, there’s not much I can do about it. Just ride the wave…stay afloat and keep going.

I was trying on fall clothes the other day with my sister. The scars on my chest are very visible as any open heart surgery survivor knows. Perhaps they’ll soften over time like the others, but in the meantime, they’re raised, angry red and obvious. Much of my clothing is v-necked which shows my latest scar. She was baffled that I would wear something that might show a bit of my scar instead of covering up to hide what’s happened to me. But it’s all a part of me. The tracks of my tears, my experiences and I don’t want to hide anymore. I want to help. I want to be comfortable being me.

Perhaps people will find it ugly to see my scar. That’s ok. Because lucky for them, they’re not me. They don’t have to live with it or the constant pain. But me, well, I’m on the road to recovery…one baby step at a time…

September Rabbit Rabbit

You know what happens on the first of the month if you’ve been following me for any stretch of time – we say Rabbit Rabbit, White Rabbit, White Rabbit – for luck for the month ahead! I found this sweet photo on Canva and wanted to use it because I was imagining that’s me (as a white rabbit) giving you a kiss! Mwah!

I adore September and the beginning of the school year, even though my teaching days are long over. There’s something magical about the fresh start and it clicks in place within me every September. It’s even better than New Year’s Eve for a new beginning for me because it’s gradual. Forget about January and making resolutions! I’m more into hopefully opening new pathways in September!

Just in case you might have thought I’d forgotten you or my blog – no, I haven’t. I’ve just been recuperating from the open heart surgery I endured and trying to heal from it. It’s not been what I had thought it would be – a smooth uphill battle. Instead it’s been a roller coaster, full of twists and downs and ups and sideways motions, none of which I could have predicted.

But I’m still here – being more in the present than ever because I haven’t a choice – and making the most of it!

Shine On!

xo

Heart and Soul

If you’ve been with me for awhile, you know I have written about the many life experiences I’ve had in order to connect with others. Making connections and helping others has always been the key to my writings. Well, that and talking about heartlights shining which at this point, I find even more curious since my heartlight is due for a shiny upgrade.

Being a breast cancer survivor, (now at the 20 year mark!), I thought that it would be smooth sailing from here on out. Apparently, my soul had signed up for a few more life experiences at earth school that I wasn’t aware I needed. So here I am, asking for your help, your prayers and your good thoughts, because open heart surgery is next on my schedule.

I know, shocking, right? It was to me, too. My entire life I’d known I had a heart murmur, low blood pressure and I would describe myself as a fainter (not often, but enough to not surprise myself that I faint at the sight of a needle etc.). It was my normal. However, it wasn’t normal. It was due to a genetically deformed aortic valve that I was born with – a bicuspid instead of a tricuspid valve that received more damage over the years by chemotherapy, radiation – and needs to be replaced now.

I’m not your typical heart patient. There are a multitude of complications to navigate for the cardiologists and luckily, they are prepping their strategies with the help from my previous doctors for hopefully the best outcome – a renewed heart.

So there it is – my latest news. I’ll admit that as the date gets closer, I get a bit more nervous. I’ve danced with the ‘what if I don’t make it’ through the surgery. I’ve battled the ‘I don’t want to have the surgery’ and I’ll take my chances. I’ve curled up in a ball and cried myself to sleep, feeling sorry for myself. I’ve had every emotion imaginable and ended up here.

Interestingly, here is where I am processing the letting go of fear. There’s something amazingly freeing at this point in my life to know that there’s a chance I will not make it through the surgery. It makes the last few days before it more meaningful, more urgent to share the truth of how I feel, most important to tell those whom I love and appreciate, how much they mean to me. I have nothing to lose.

Whether or not I make it through, I love that I am unafraid to speak my truth, finally…interestingly how the soul knows and I do not question life school anymore. I wanted to share this with you because you have all been on this blog journey with me over the years and I have appreciated your loving support, your help and your friendship. My life has been richer because of our connections. You have my sincerest love and gratitude for being you!

Keep shining your heartlights! I’ll be looking for them!

Shine On!

xo