Things Open Heart Survivors Don’t Always Share

There are a lot of things that most of us Open Heart survivors would rather forget. These are the last things we want to discuss when it comes to what we have been through. I suppose it is our own little form of PTSD.

As always, who would I be if I was not up front and honest about all of this. Not much of a warning to others if you don’t get to hear about the really fun stuff.

  1. The news and the reactions. When the Cardiologist walks into an ER and looks at you and says “We don’t know how you are even alive”. The look on my wife’s face was the worst part of it. The feeling of horror she went through at that moment will stick with me for the rest of my life.
  2. After surgery, they wake you up from the anesthesia the first time to pull all the tubes out of your throat that were used to keep you alive. Most people flip out and panic. They have no idea where they are or why they are there and they feel like they are choking to death on all the tubes going down their throat. It is basically like waking up confused and drowning. It is terrifying.
  3. At some point in the hospital, they have to lay you down flat in the bed. Because everything has been displaced in your chest, it all feels like it is trying to escape through your mouth. This is the second time you experience the feeling of drowning. This time, it is like your lungs and heart are trying to come out of your mouth.
  4. During the operation they have to put two 1/2″ tubes in your chest to help relieve the pressure buildup in your chest from swelling. After 4 days, they pull these tubes out. When I say they pull them out, think about the speed, strength, and motion of starting a lawn mower pull cord. They grab both tubes, tell you to take a deep breath and release it. Before you can take the entire breath, they rip them out of you in one very fast, fluid motion. It literally feels like you are getting your guts pulled out. I do not wish it on my worst enemy.
  5. Every Open Heart survivor remembers their first post-op sneeze. To this day, it was the most painful experience of my life. It is one of the few times in my adult life that I cried because of pain.

These are just a few of the more common things most open heart patients go through. Some go through more…

Just more reason to take care of yourselves!


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