My mom's going in for triple bypass surgery tomorrow...

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Renzatic, Nov 17, 2015.

  1. Renzatic Suspended

    Renzatic

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    #1
    I've never had to deal with anything like this before, so I figured I'd ask a bunch of strangers on the internet about what to expect.

    All things considered, things could've been a lot worse. About a couple weeks ago, my mom starts experiencing some chest pains. She calls up her general practitioner, and they schedule her in for the 27th. It wasn't all that terrible at the time, so he accepts it, writes down the appointment on the calendar, and tries to go on with life.

    Things went well until just this last Thursday when apparently it became much worse. It was touch and go. One minute it'd hurt, the next the minute it'd be fine, so she tries to grin and bear it. By the next day, it's apparently so bad she can barely endure it. Since dad was at work at the time, she calls me up, says she's hurting. I talk her through it, asking all kinds of dumb questions.

    "Are you short on breath? Dizzy? Light headed? Anything like that?"

    "No. It just hurts. Like how your chest feels when you've been running outside in cold weather."

    "Do you think it's a heart problem? Doctor said you came out fine on your last exam, didn't he?"

    "Yeah. I don't think it is."

    "I'm at a loss then. Maybe you just pulled a muscle. You remember cracking your sternum on anything?"

    Needless to say, I'm not a doctor, and no one should take any medical advice I ever give ever for all time. I tell her to call up her doctor, and see if they can squeeze her in earlier. She does, and they do have an opening available later that day. But this time, the phrase "chest pains" set of some warning bells, and the doctors office suggests maybe calling an ambulance.

    You know, just in case.

    So to cut a long, long story full of drama short. She calls the ambulance, they give her a nitro pill, and the pain goes away, I meet her in the ER, talk to a bunch of people, go back home to get dad, drive back so he can follow me to the hospital, and blah blah blah. The tests for damage come back looking really good, but the bloodwork show that something's going on. Likey a small heart attack. She gets a room, and an appointment for the cath lab...on Monday. Cue a weekend of me driving around everywhere, taking care of everything and everyone, while dad stays with mom, and tries to keep her from killing nurses. No one, not the family, the nurses, nor the doctors assume it'll require anything more than a stint to repair.

    Then she gets the angiogram. All coronary arteries are clogged almost completely. She was on the cusp of having a true attack so severe, it would've left her bedridden for the rest of her greatly stunted life at best were it to happen. Here by the Grace of God was it caught before it happened. Even the doctors were stunned. "Geez, if we knew it was this bad, we would've had you here in the cath lab first thing last Friday".

    I want to say derp, but there really wasn't any evidence to suggest anything severe was going on.

    So what was once supposed to be an outpatient surgery has now become open heart. The good news is the prognosis is excellent, and she's expected to make a pretty damn near if not 100% full recovery since no real damage was done. It's not all doom 'n gloom. But I don't know what to expect immediately after the surgery. How long does it take to convalesce, anything we should watch out for, all that good stuff. I figured someone else here has gone through something similar, and I'd like to hear your takes on this.
     
  2. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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    #2
    I don't have much to say. I try not to spout platitudes. But there is a random stranger wishing you and your family well.
     
  3. Renzatic thread starter Suspended

    Renzatic

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    #3
    Thanks. Though things are look pretty good, I still can't help but be a little worried about it.
     
  4. Beeray macrumors regular

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  5. rshrugged macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    Before and after, help and encourage her where possible without invading her privacy and without discouraging her apparent toughness.

    The actual procedure weighs on a person/patient but knowing your family is in the waiting room and how you're affecting them then, and potentially how in the future, can be heavier still. Every family has their own dynamic. Use what you know about it to lighten the load.

    Best to you and family.
     
  6. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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  7. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

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    #7
    Sorry to hear about your mother Renzatic. It's always frustrating to hear those stories of the hospitals turning away patients only to find far more significant issues shortly down the road. It sounds like they have the situation under control now. She is very lucky that if she did have a heart attack, it was minor. It's much better to go into the situation this way than an acute care, emergency triple bypass.

    Your mother is definitely looking at a major surgery, but a routine surgery. Though there are risks, keeping things in prospective, not having this surgery has already shown serious symptoms. So it's a good thing the problem has been identified and is soon to be resolved.

    Recovery is usually ~1.5 to 3months There are various methods they can use to to preform the surgery which will effect the recovery time. Her age and health otherwise will also be a factor. Most commonly they cut open the chest and use cardiopulmonary bypass pump to replace the heart and lung functions during the surgery (very invasive, as it sounds). There are some newer techniques that are less invasive that don't require CPB,smaller incisions, and now robotics. After the surgery she'll have to remain on a ventilator for a couple hours+ even after regaining consciousness which can be uncomfortable and inhibits speaking.

    Recovery time in the hospital is generally a week (2 days in the ICU followed by 4-5 in recovery). I would expect her to be weak in the weeks to come. Usually this rebounds to normal after 4-6 weeks. You'll have to help monitor her heart condition, check for infection, keep wounds clean (chest incision and possible fly another area where they grafted the additional vessels from).

    She'll also be prescribed a bunch of medication. If your parents are older make sure they understand the instructions. Some of these medications doses change frequently depending on how her body reacts, so if her memory/comprehension is weak, it can get confusing. I spent some time as a PharmD in an anticoagulant clinic that helped manage such medications in cases such as this.

    If she wasn't taking much medication before, she will be now. Expect antiplatelets to stop clotting, a beta blocker to decrease heart's work, an ace inhibitor to reduce blood pressure, a statin to control cholesterol, and nitrates for chest pain. There will likely also be pain killers for the surgery, laxatives to get the GI tract moving (due to anesthesia/pain killers), and antibiotics for the incisions. If she has diabetes, those meds might be reworked. If she develops an arrthymia, you'll have more cardiac meds. Depending on the severity of things and her response there can be more of the same. The list goes on... Having someone on the ball to help is important especially until things level out. Also, having a person to help keep an eye on side effects is great.

    Also important are making the dietary and lifestyle choices where possible to make the best of her cardiovascular health.

    She will likely be enrolled into a cardiac rehab program outpatient or inpatient- the latter sounds like it will be the case. This will help take some of the burden off you and your father and ensure she gets the proper care she needs- especially pertaining to diet, exercise, and personal care until she regains strength.

    Illness affects the whole family, so it's important you take care of yourself too! Best of luck. I hope everything goes well. Let us know how it goes!
     
  8. shinji macrumors 65816

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    #8
    Wow, sorry to hear she has to go through this, Renzatic.

    One of our family friends had a triple bypass surgery a few years ago and he's fine now. I'm sure she'll be ok.

    Good luck!
     
  9. Renzatic thread starter Suspended

    Renzatic

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    #9
    Thanks, Gold. I'll keep your post up as quick reference.

    The good news is that she's in fine health, other than the usual bevy of ailments that effect people in the 55+ range. High blood pressure is the worst of it, but heart disease is the family curse, so that's not a surprise. It's already controlled with medication. My granddad had a heart attack, my oldest uncle had a fairly mild one that he very proactively took care of, and the rest of mom's brothers and sisters all have their little issues as well. They all keep an eye on it.

    ...I'm hoping it skips a generation.

    Things are looking great overall, but of course everyone is fretting over the surgery itself. If she can get through it, we're golden. But so many things could go wrong during, we're all on edge.
     
  10. MacNut macrumors Core

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    #10
    This is a fairly routine surgery at this point. My cousin had it done about a month ago and is going home from rehab tomorrow. So there will be a long recovery time. Good luck, and hope for the best.
     
  11. lowendlinux Contributor

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    #11
    Buddy of mine across the hall (literally) had it done in January. He was in the hospital for about 10 days then 6 weeks of rehab. Not easy peazy but not bad either
     
  12. Roller macrumors 68020

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    #12
    The key with any major surgery is getting through the hospitalization and into rehab as safely and quickly as possible. It's also important for family members to act as advocates for patients by paying attention to what medications are given, hand washing by staff, perioperative procedures, and so on. Don't be shy about asking why things are being done. Please let us know how it goes.
     
  13. Renzatic thread starter Suspended

    Renzatic

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    #13
    I'll do just that, and will do.

    I just got the phone call. She's going into surgery. I gotta go take care of a dog, then I'm off to the hospital.
     
  14. keithneese macrumors member

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    #14
    I worked for 15 years in a cardiac care unit where we recovered people from that procedure. My mother had the same procedure done as well, so I know what is going through your mind, @Renzatic. I will be keeping her and you in my thoughts today. The surgery is not as bad as it used to be. I hesitate to use the word "routine", for no surgery is routine when it is a loved one. Typical recovery time was about a week in the hospital. Please do keep us all posted.
     
  15. AlliFlowers Contributor

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    #15
    Sending positive energy your way. Make sure she follows her rehab and doesn't try to ditch any of it.
     
  16. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    Scary. I hope she feels better in a hurry. Prayers for you and your family.
     
  17. macquariumguy macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    She'll be fine. I had heart surgery last year (valve replacement) and 3 months later I was amazed at how strong I felt, way better than before the surgery. They're doing awesome things in cardiac units these days.
     
  18. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

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    #18
    Eat healthy, exercise, maintain a healthy weight, get regular checkups, take care of high blood pressure and high cholesterol (lifestyle has a profound impact on these), etc and your chances are much improved.
     
  19. Huntn macrumors G5

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    #19
    Best wishes for your Mom and your family.
     
  20. Old Muley macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    My dad went in for a triple bypass that turned into a 5X bypass just about a 18 months ago. I was certainly very stressful for my mom, but he came through it with no problems. As others have said, you'd hate to call it routine, but it is an increasingly common surgery. The lead-up to the surgery was my dad experiencing some upper-body weakness, lack of stamina and shortness of breath. An angiogram (?) was performed and a stress test was scheduled, but the stress test was immediately cancelled and the surgery scheduled. The doctor said in retrospect my dad may not have survived the stress test given how tenuous things were.

    All is good now and I'm glad it was caught. Keep hanging in there, hope all is well with your family.
     
  21. JamesMike macrumors demi-god

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  22. Scepticalscribe, Nov 18, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2015

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #22
    Hadn't spotted this thread until late this evening. Sorry to hear of this, @Renzatic and may I wish your mum the very best of luck, and fingers crossed for her. (And you).

    While it is inevitable that this will be a testing and trying time, advances in cardiac medicine have meant that this procedure is considerably less risky than would have been the case thirty years ago. Brilliant, informative, helpful and supportive post from @A.Goldberg by the way - one I should pay heed to myself.

    Both of my parents had heart surgery, Mother has a pacemaker and three stents, and my dad had a by-pass and a stent. Their respective cardiac operations and heart surgery were the least of their problems, and they both recovered completely from their operations.
     
  23. Renzatic thread starter Suspended

    Renzatic

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    #23
    Your story follows mine almost to a T. Mom's surgery was intended to be a triple, but ended up being a quintuple.

    And speaking of which, I finally have some good news. The surgery came out perfectly, everything looks and healthy, and she's expected to make a full recovery without having to endure any severe lifestyle changes. About the only problem was them getting us all hyped up and ready at 7:30, telling us "it's time", then leaving everyone in the waiting room for 5 hours before deciding to get around to it.

    ...maybe that's the stress test. Who knows.

    But anyway, I've been up about 30-something hours now, and I've got a list of phonecalls as long as my arm I need to make. So I'm gonna call it a day here.

    Thanks for the well wishes and support, everyone!
     
  24. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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    #24
    Good news! If you drink, I think you deserve a nice tall something to release the stress.
     
  25. Scepticalscribe, Nov 18, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2015

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #25
    Delighted to hear the good news - I know how you must feel, having gone through something similar with both parents.

    Meanwhile, pour yourself a glass of something good, as @mobilehaathi thi has already suggested.
     

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