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MICHCONRN Posts: 174
10/25/09 9:20 P

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Yikes! If my doctor mentioned "future surgeries" I imagine I would have flipped out! I have absolutely NO intention of having that operation again. They'll have to shoot me first!
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REBECCAB4244's Photo REBECCAB4244 SparkPoints: (7,896)
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10/25/09 9:09 P

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Yeah, it's different. It's a trade off.

In order to do the robotic surgery the artery that they needed to work on had to be in a certain place. Mine was. I had the 11th robotic surgery in Alabama. The only hospital that used the daVinci robot for heart surgery at the time was the hospital I used. One of the comments that my surgeon said was that this was a good thing to do, because there would not be scar tissue to deal with in the future for additional surgeries!

I'm doing well. I need to take better care of myself so that I can avoid the "future surgeries." emoticon

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MICHCONRN Posts: 174
10/23/09 9:04 P

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I have heard that the robotic surgery is exceptionally painful post-operatively....
emoticon Michelle

REBECCAB4244's Photo REBECCAB4244 SparkPoints: (7,896)
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10/23/09 4:42 P

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Even though I had the robotic surgery, I am numb on the right side of my left breast. I know my pains are different, but does anyone else have shooting pains from time to time in the middle of your chest? There is one spot, right below and to the right of my left breast that I think I would literally die if someone hit me there for some reason. However,I shouldn't complain about anything. I'm here and breathing. That's what it's really all about. emoticon

Edited by: REBECCAB4244 at: 10/23/2009 (16:42)
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MICHCONRN Posts: 174
10/22/09 9:36 P

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Thanks for sharing your experience, Ron. That's what I like most about this group, supporting one another so that each of us can feel less alone in our experiences. The scar on my chest formed a keloid, so is extremely sensitive to touch. There is still a slight weird numb spot in one area, as well. The leg scar healed nicely with no keloid, but it too has a weird numb spot that still persists somewhat after 2 years (and 4 months). Even with normal healing, it's very difficult not to have a psychological response to having the chest bone cut open, in my opinion. Happy sparkling!
emoticon Michelle

Edited by: MICHCONRN at: 10/22/2009 (21:36)
45RONALD48's Photo 45RONALD48 SparkPoints: (30,470)
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10/22/09 5:23 P

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I sure appreciate reading all of your life stories- it sure helps me in knowing that I am not alone. As a guy I had the classic pain from the middle of my chest down to the left side of my arm. I too experienced foot cramps from lipitor, but slowly over time it went away, luckily it was not debilitating. After about 2-3 years, all the feeling came back to my chest, but am still aware of the incision when I have a t-shirt press up against it, (don't tell anyone, but my phobia is not liking people to tap my chest or touch any part of it). Hopefully now that the busy summer is over we will all have more time to sparkle! Ron

MICHCONRN Posts: 174
10/17/09 1:49 P

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Luckily, most people don't have those kind of severe side effects from these drugs that keep us out of the hospital. But, it is very important that we educate ourselves about any medication that we take so that we're aware of what side effects they may cause. Each of us is our own best advocate when it comes to healthcare.

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BETTYJO2U's Photo BETTYJO2U SparkPoints: (10,466)
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10/17/09 1:43 P

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A little word to the wise about statins. I can't take any of them. I have tried Crestor, Pravachol and another statin cholesterol drug and each one caused me to have such awful leg pain and I became so weak that I couldn't walk to the end of my block anymore. My legs ached so bad I could hardly stand it. Within a week of quitting each different one, the pain was gone and the weakness, too was gone. Some people just can't tolerate statins. I now take Welchol which consists of 3 pills taken twice daily but it seems to do the trick without the side effects of the statins. My husband was put on provastatin this summer and developed such joint pain he could barely walk at times. He also was so weak that he had to force himself to get out of bed each day. He associated it to the treatment he had for prostate cancer. I suggested that he try going a couple weeks with out the provastatin and within a week, he too was almost back to normal.

The docs give us so many drugs and if we don't know the possible side effects we may go for a long time with the symptoms and just get one pill after another to relieve the complications of one drug with another. It gets to be an endless cycle.



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MICHCONRN Posts: 174
10/17/09 1:43 P

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Good point, Ellestl!

Mazdawd50, like you my symptoms prior to surgery mainly presented when I was rushing around, usually time-stressed. I truly credit my primary care doctor with saving my like, since he's the one that insisted on having things checked out thoroughly despite my age and lack of risk factors other than genetics. I don't smoke, have always watched what I eat, am not diabetic, have always been active, and am only maybe 20 pounds overweight at the most. My father had his first angioplasty at age 50. He has never been overweight at all, does not have high blood pressure, and quit smoking in his 20s. He's had several more angioplasties, and just had an aortic valve replacement (open-heart surgery) a few weeks ago.

Yes, lifestyle is our weapon. We need to be extra vigilant in order to combat our genetics.

emoticon Michelle

ELLESTL's Photo ELLESTL Posts: 235
10/17/09 12:04 P

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Knowing that the alternative is dropping dead should be a great incentive . . . at least it is for me!

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MAZDAWD50's Photo MAZDAWD50 Posts: 237
10/17/09 11:56 A

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I never did get any pain or pressure in my chest area. It was all just across the top of my shoulders and would sometimes go around into my throat like heartburn. It would last only a few minutes. Sometimes I would get it with exertion and sometimes not. Usually it was when I was feeling rushed or mentally stressed. My doctor didn't think it was angina, but decided to make sure with tests. That is what I love about her. She rules out the bad stuff before she makes a diagnosis of something simple. My mom had her first heart attack at 55 and another at 60 that killed her. She never smokes, but I did for years which is one reason I think I developed it so early. I have always watched what I eat as I have always had a weight problem. I have not been very active though since my kids were born. That is when I put on weight and never got it off. I also have poor insulin (takes 2 and 3 times as much to do the same job as someone with normal insulin) and all that extra insulin causes serious side effects like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain, difficulty losing weight.

Now I have to be super vigilant and get into an active lifestyle. It is easy enough now but I am not sure how I will fit it in when I return to work. I work long hours plus have a 2 hour commute each day. But I have to do it. No excuses!!!

"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint."
Isaish 40:31

Oct 2012 Goals:
1)Get eyes checked/new glasses
2)Do 10 min fitness each day
3)Visit Sparkpeople daily
4)Plan next day meals each day
5)Be under 190 for month end
6)Visual Collage & Calender of goals


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MICHCONRN Posts: 174
10/16/09 12:09 P

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Thank you, Rebecca for sharing your story as well. Symptoms in women in particular tend to be very vague, not so much the "elephant sitting on my chest" presentation that many men experience.

So, your surgery was in the Fall of 2007, a few months after mine? The robotic surgery was not available in my area at the time of my surgery, and I don't know if I would have qualified anyway, since I needed the left main coronary artery bypassed as well as the LAD. When I first heard about the robotic surgery about a year and a half ago, I so wished that I could have had that instead of open-heart. I still struggle emotionally and physically with having had my chest opened surgically and the lengthy recovery from that experience.

It's wonderful to hear that you're doing well now and still improving. Great words of wisdom for our new member.

emoticon Michelle

REBECCAB4244's Photo REBECCAB4244 SparkPoints: (7,896)
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10/15/09 11:44 P

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Ellestl,
You are absolutely right. It can be simply a small twinge that can alert you that there is a problem. I had my first two stents in March 2005. The following October I had another cath and another stent because scar tissue was forming a blockage. I continued to have sweats and shortness of breath from time to time. In January 2007 my doctor did another cath and sent me to several different specialists to make certain that everything was OK.

Regardless of what showed on all of the tests, I knew that things weren't right. I had sweats, shortness of breath, and occasional chest pains that I treated with nitroglycerine tabs. These symptoms had been with me since 2005. I was concerned, but the doctors had deemed me in good health. My cardiologist still was watching because I was symptomatic even though the tests said I was OK.

In late September 2007, as part of my job, I had to walk up a hill every day. I noticed a slight discomfort above my left breast. I never felt it except when I exerted myself when I walked up the hill. It was a very small pain, but it was something that was new and different. I talked to my fitness trainer from Berkely Heart Lab who told me that we weren't talking about a sprained ankle, I needed to call my doctor.

To make an even longer story short, I had a stress test on Wednesday (with great difficulty). I finished the second part of the test on Thursday and met with the PA from my cardiologist. He was out of town and would not be back until the following Tuesday. Even though I was advised to have the cath the next day, I decided that I wanted my doctor to do the cath. Also, the extra time allowed me to tie up all loose ends at work, just in case.

I'm sure you can guess what happened. My LAD was practically closed because of scar tissue from the previous stents. I lucked up and qualified for the daVinci Robot surgery. This was not as invasive. I had been on Plavix, which I know probably saved my life, but caused some post-surgical blood pressure problems.

I did not recover as fast as others I've read about
(with the daVinci robot surgery), but I did recover fairly quickly.

These days I'm doing great. I did gain weight after surgery, so I am getting motivated with SparkPeople and my Clinical Educator at Berkeley Heart Labs. I am going to shed the weight and get in shape. I have a wonderful life in front of me.

This was a long answer to what should have been a short reply. Your body gives out signals. Listen to them, trust them, and act upon them.


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MICHCONRN Posts: 174
10/15/09 11:18 P

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Dear Ellestl,

Thank you so much for sharing your story! We have a lot of parallels in common. I too had bypass surgery in my 40s, having inherited the genetics that lead to coronary artery disease. I was also lucky enough to have been diagnosed before suffering any heart muscle damage. My daughter's fifth birthday fell during the few days between my cardiac cath and my surgery. She provided the motivation for me to get through the surgery and recovery.

So, it's been a little over 3 months since your surgery? The surgical pain does get better gradually. Although, my surgery was over 2 years ago, and my sternum still hurts when I sneeze vigorously. Are you having trouble sleeping because of pain/discomfort, or is your trouble related to anxiety?

It is a difficult thing to "wrap your head around" having gone through this at our age. I'm glad you've found our group so that we can share our experience and validate our feelings about this life-altering event that we have in common.

Check in with Alan (ALANOFLINY) when you get a chance. His surgery was in August, he's only 50, an avid exerciser whose otherwise general good health helped him to get out of the hospital on day 5 and back to the gym quickly.

emoticon Michelle

Edited by: MICHCONRN at: 10/15/2009 (23:26)
ELLESTL's Photo ELLESTL Posts: 235
10/15/09 10:39 P

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In January of 2008 my brother had a massive heart attack and died at the age of 45, 3 weeks before his 46th birthday.

This past summer, while working out at the gym, where I trained 5 to 6 days a week, I noticed a little pressure in my chest, almost like someone was laying their hand on my sternum. My first thought was "huh, that's not right." I did not want to take any chances with my health, especially since I have a four year old.

Since I have anemia, I decided to check with my doctor and my blood levels were fine. My doctor decided to do an echo-cardiogram, which was fine. Since my brother died of a heart attack the year before, she decided to send me for a stress test.

On July 6th I went for a stress test and failed. I was scheduled for a cardiac cath. The cardiac cath came back with two arteries blocked - the on in two area at 80% and the LAD 100%. In fact, my heart was compensating by backfilling. My heart doctor sent me to the surgeon the same day (it was a Friday afternoon) and the surgeon had me on the table at 7:00 a.m. Monday morning.

The surgeon was able to use both mammary arteries
rather than taking a vein from the leg or arm. We caught the problem early before I had any damage to my heart. Since I was in good health, I was out of the hospital after 4 days and released from the cardiac nurse after 2 visits.

After two months, I started going back to my tae kwon do classes and recently saw my cardiologist who said she was not going to send me to cardiac rehab since I am working out every day walking and doing tae kwon do 2 days a week (just keep my heart below 160 beats per minute).

I am waiting for the incision area to stop hurting. I have not had any weight gain and in fact have lost weight since the surgery. I would say the biggest problem I have is trying to sleep through the night. I had my blood work done recently and my bad cholesterol was 79, the cardiologist wants it below 40, so I am on statins and currently on a low dosage betablocker, which I hope to be off within a year.

Its strange to think that this whole thing started because of a slight feeling of pressure.

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