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The Women's Room: Post-op emotoinal struggles, pain and comfy bras

The women's room
Welcome to The Women’s Room. This is a place for women to talk to each other about living with heart disease, and the impact it has on your life. You can share your experiences, ask for advice and get support from other women who’ve been there. It’s time to get talking about your heart!
14 replies [Last post]
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Joined: 24/10/2016
Posts: 1

I'm a young 74 year old female & had open heart surgery for a blocked right ventricle in late July. At no point either before or after surgery were the probable huge emotional/psychological after-effects mentioned except for a few words about emotions in a dodgily printed leaflet from the hospital. In my case, I'm struggling with post-op severe emotional hyper-sensitivity (often tearful for no reason), depression, anxiety and confusion. I told the surgeon at follow-up that he must have done a lobotomy at the same time as fixing my heart because I was feeling these after effects and he said be patient, it takes time. But my brain just doesn't seem to work properly and I find even if I think I've done something correctly I haven't. This is both distressing and confusing and I've totally lost my confidence. Due to car problems I've only been able to attend one cardiac rehab class but plan to return this week. However, I'll only stay if the leader turns the gym temperature up from freezing to something more acceptable - I was actually shivering during the first rather condescending session which was totally off-putting.

I also still get post-op non-cardiac chest pain in my chest, neck & head especially after effort e.g. hoovering which my GP thinks could be caused by some brain damage when nerves in my chest were cut through during the op. Ibuprofen helps. This was never mentiond by the surgeon. Neither was the fact that I almost died in theatre when my BP crashed & they couldn't get me warm. I was in theatre 7 hours instead of the expected approx 3 hours. I'm appalled that this wasn't mentioned in the surgeon's brief follow-up letter to my GP so there's a possibility I'd never be believed if I told any future surgeon/anaesthetist.

Regarding post-op bras - I ordered non-wired M&S ones online. My chest wall has expanded from 38 to 40+ and my bust has totally changed shape and drooped making me feel less feminine. No-one ever said this would happen either.

The surgery seems to have been succesful but I'm beginning to wish I hadn't had it done, or at least been totally prepared for the possibility of all the above so that I could make a more informed decision.

Gillian 

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Joined: 27/10/2016
Posts: 2

gill like you after a nasty heart attack , following 2 bouts of pneumnia , plus enlaged heart and splean , i find myself , in constant anxiety , /depression , but the nurses and doctors were brilliant, I Am trying very hard to work through this, just applied today for pulminery rehab , would be great , to have a online friend to cheer each other on, to me we were givena 2nd chance , lets use it, xxxxlove judedevilheart

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Bev
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Joined: 26/04/2017
Posts: 4

Hi Gill, I am currently recovering from a single bypass. I like yourself was completely in aware of the full facts before the open surgery. Like your self I have experienced high emotions and anxiety. I am glad you put this post on as I can see this is a common post op experience. Also like yourself I may have choose not to have had the operation done. The pain and discomfort in my sternum, my miss shaped boobs were not explained by my surgeon either, all other risks but not having to still be taking strong pin relief 3/4 weeks post op.
Bev

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Joined: 10/05/2017
Posts: 5

I had triple bypass on 11th April 2017 and feel a totally emotional wreck. I became an emergency after a heart attack while on holiday. I only sought medical help when I got home and only then because I felt very unwell, but I was totally unaware that I had suffered a heart attack as I had no pain whatsoever. All I had was breathlessness when I walked. I now know this is a classic sign of heart disease, but the shock of being quite a healthy person to having major surgery within days has left me totally traumatised. I feel cheated that none of the emotional trauma was mentioned and I feel cross when people keep saying its normal to feel like this. I also feel that unless someone has been through something similar they don't fully get it. What I find difficult is telling people I feel like this, as many people see that your home now you must be better, so I find myself saying 'I'm great thanks' when actually I'm not great at all. Thank goodness for this site, and Bhf for directing me to it. Just reading through other people's stories and realised I'm not that unique and there are others who have been through it.

Edited by Fran15801 on May 10, 2017 - 2:23am.
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Bev
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Joined: 26/04/2017
Posts: 4

Fran you are suffering aren't you, early morning posts, I take it you are going through a sleepless period. It is a long recovery from this op. You have an advantage by being fit and healthy before surgery, this will enable you to recover quicker.
Please talk to your gp about your emotional wellbeing as this will effect your recovery .... be honest to people who say you must be well, tell your them "actually it was traumatic for me due to the shock" and having one of the biggest operations the human body can under go, rather than say your ok. I was doing similar myself, I wear make up and I was a larger lady. I was being told you look so well, a few pounds weight loss and make up do make me well is what I learnt to reply, Rather than deceiving myself all was well, I now say "inside my head and heart I feel as if I have been in or suffered a car crash". People have then offered support and a good listening ear ..... I hope this has helped you some more ..... I have also learnt to accept each day now for what it is, I am not as well as I can be but I am a lot better than I was when I first came out of hospital and a lot better than I was this time last week.
For me rest and sleep are my greatest healer. Take care Bev

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Joined: 10/05/2017
Posts: 5

Thank you Bev, This is worse than child birth, I've been home a couple of weeks now, and it's been four weeks since my op, by now I thought I would feel a lot better I just never been in a position too feel sorry for myself it's a hard pill to swallow. It's good that at least on this site people can share their experiences. I think your tip is good that I am not as good as I can be, but may be I am better this week than last week. Not sleeping at night very well as this is the quiet time when everyone else is asleep and I feel on edge and anxious. I think the fear of every symptom heart related or other is making me panic just because of the reality of how vunerable your body can be without even knowing it.

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Joined: 12/05/2017
Posts: 6

I am very sorry you ladies have had these awful problems. I am soon to see a surgeon for aortic valve and arteries replacement My husband had a triple bypass 2 years ago and emotional symptoms were never mentioned to him but he did struggle for a long while but, as a man refused to believe he was depressed.
I of course am terrified of having this op as I am 70 this year and the recovery will take a while I think due to arthritis.
I have bought some soft stretch pull on type bras, hoping these will be ok.
Kind regards

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Joined: 10/05/2017
Posts: 5

Hi Joan, another night bird, I think the recovery does take longer no matter what the medical professionals tell you. I believe that they are very good at putting your body back together, but I can only speak from my own experience and that I was certainly not given the emotional support needed for being discharged. I think there is so much pressure on beds that they under estimate the impact that this can have on patients. Although I have been invited to a rehab programme at the end of May this will be 8 weeks post surgery. Maybe a telephone call or district nurse could call earlier after discharge home just so there is someone to hand should you need it would be very helpful ask for this before you leave. Certainly in my case I wish I had this it may have helped me rather than leaving my family who are and have been very supportive picking up the pieces. Watching them watching me being so stressed is awful. I will be seeing my surgeon on Thursday and this is something I will raise. I am improving, but at a very slow pace as maybe although I am coming up to 52 my body is telling me to slow down. On a positive note Joan many patients on the wards were a lot older than you who were having aortic valve replacements/artery bypass and I take my hat off to all of them as we all supported each other. Don't be afraid to ask for help either and ask all the questions you need pre and post op. And remember if things become tough I'll be on here to talk. Just knowing there's a life line has helped me in the past few days. Not sure when your op is, but I wish you best wishes and a good recovery love Franxx

Edited by Fran15801 on May 14, 2017 - 8:45pm.
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Joined: 10/05/2017
Posts: 5

Joan I went and still am going bra less cheaper. However, I only B cup so I can get away with it, Just bare in mind if sore don't wear one, if it rubs take it off. Hope this helps.

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Joined: 12/05/2017
Posts: 6

Thank you so much Fran, your words have helped and some good tips there.
I don't know how long I will need to wait to see the surgeon, it's a 3 month wait for the op, no doubt you will hear from me again
I

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Joined: 25/05/2017
Posts: 3

i am due to have triple heart byepass on the 4th of june i am terrified if i say anything to my family or friends they just tell me i have to have the op and it is a very commen op these days i was rushed in to hospital last week where they said i had to stay in coranory care untill my op but after 5 days i sighed my self out against medical advice ,i was just so stressed could not sleep and watching people loss there battle for life was so distressing . i no i have to have this op but i still find it hard to come to term's with i am 56years old and keep telling myself i will have my life back after this .i am so glad i have found this forum where people have heart ops and can speak from experiance