Monday, March 10, 2008

Scar update *warning, slightly gross*

When they told me that the hole in my chest would close up again and you wouldn't be able to tell anything happened, I didn't believe them. 3 weeks later, and you can hardly tell!

This is the day before the abscess burst open - it's red, swollen, and sore.

This is today:

It's still a little wider where the last part of the wound closed up, and more obvious than it was before it got infected. I do recall someone saying the scar would be more vascular while it was healing.

At the very top of the scar, I get some little shooting pains off into my neck when I turn or stretch my neck. I think something (a nerve??) is pulling there when I turn, which is getting annoying. I'm sure it'll get better with time.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Given the all clear!

I saw Dr Miller, my surgeon, today and he is very happy with my recovery - WOOHOO! He said I can start building up my exercise in both intensity and frequency and wants me to work on just pushing myself more over the next month, then as of April 1, I'm off restrictions!

I can start riding my bike, I'm going to start very slow jogging to see how it goes, and just try and do lots of stretching for my poor, tight muscles.

I'm so pleased to know that everything went well, and I really do feel so good now. I'm off all the drugs, I'm sleeping well, and while I get tired after a few days of walking, I know I just need to work to build this up, and rest when I need to.

The other good news is that the hole in my chest is almost completely healed! We stopped stuffing it with gauze on Friday night, and I didn't even need to cover it up today. It's looking really good, and the doctors were impressed with how fast it healed.

Interesting things from my talks with the team today:

Apparently my sternum is stronger now than it was before surgery. Something to do with when it knits together, the core is much stronger, so harder to break.

Because where my aneurysm was is in the most dangerous place for an aneurysm to be in case of rupture, and is now replaced by virtually indestructible Dacron, I'm out of the woods. If I have a dissection anywhere else on my aorta, it would be in a place where survival rates are much higher, even if it takes days to get checked out.

The "Stanford Modified Tyrone David Valve Sparing Aortic Replacement" or whatever its called is such that it recreates the natural blood flow of the aorta and sinuses through the valve, so theoretically everything should last as long as someone with no heart problems.

The condition of my aorta that was replaced was very fragile and thin, which I knew, but that's not "normal" of an aneurysm, which I did not know. Apparently it's not at all common for an aortic aneurysm to be in such a fragile state, and could certainly explain why, even though my dad got in for surgery very soon after his aneurysm dissected, that they weren't able to save him. I know that the aorta was tearing as they were trying to fix it, so if it was in the same condition as mine, there is probably no way they would have a chance in a fragile, already dissected aorta in such a vital position. Makes me even more relieved to have mine fixed.

Going in to talk to everyone is always more fun that seeing a surgical team is expected to be. Everyone is incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, professional, and gives us as much time as we need to ask all of our questions. We have never felt rushed - quite the opposite - we always spend more time talking than we thought we would! Everyone takes our concerns and questions seriously, and never seems to forget that while it's routine surgery for them, it's scary for us, which is something we really appreciate.

I know I've said this before, but we cannot speak highly enough of the Stanford team.