Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Thumbs Way Up!

I went to my final appointment with my heart surgeon yesterday afternoon to see how I was healing - almost three and a half weeks after my surgery. I went prepared with a list of questions I had put together over the previous week, writing them down as they came to me: one on Thursday, two on Friday, until I had 12 questions. I might actually have been the first patient to do this with this surgeon, based on his puzzled smile when I took the list out. But the questions helped and I learned a lot.

Among the things I learned is the fact that the heart attack I had on August 9th was classified as "severe". I had 3 or 4 more in the 4 days between the first one and August 13th, the day I checked myself in to George Washington University Hospital. One more like the one I had on the 9th would have done me in. It was a close call.

I was initially told that my blockages were 100%, 90%, 90%, 68% and 68%. But I learned that I had 100% in the main, 3 blockages of 90%, and only one other at 65%. In retrospect, it's amazing that the frisbee game I had a few days before didn't kill me.

After my check-up, I learned that my breastbone is 90% healed. Friday, September 16th, marks 4 weeks after my surgery. Please keep in mind that normal healing time is 6 weeks. So beginning on Friday, the surgeon has allowed me to once again drive a car and sit in the passenger seat (there was fear that an airbag or seatbelt would be too much pressure on my chest). And more importantly, I get to return to the gym, albeit very slowly.

I am still having a "stitch reaction", which is superficial and doesn't affect my incision. Almost all of my bruises have disappeared, and the stitches on my leg look more like cat scratches rather than incisions. And my hair is growing back nicely!

It was good to walk out of there knowing that I was going to be okay. I mean, I already felt better, but my recovery is just about two weeks ahead of schedule. It was good to get the validation from the experts that I was as healthy as I felt.

I can cough now without the pain. I can sneeze without the feeling that my chest will explode. I can turn in bed without it being a big production. I can close a car door by myself. A walk to the end of the driveway doesn't leave me huffing and puffing. Simple movements I couldn't do two weeks ago, I now do without even thinking. Life is returning to normal. And I cannot contain my elation!!!!