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Bypass Recovery - What to Expect
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Bypass Recovery - What to Expect

With no previous cardiac or BP history of any kind, my 71 year old father had 5-bypass surgery 2 weeks ago -- I realize this is a very short time following such a major surgery, but we are worried about his seeming interest in not recovering.  He went home 6 days after surgery, and since that time has spent all of his time in his "jammies" on the couch, sleeping probably 14-15 hours a day some days, saying that he hurts, but when asked to pinpoint his pain, he can't identify where the pain is, making circular motions around his body to show us.  He is also ALWAYS nauseated, but the physician said his medications should not be causing nausea.  My father has always been conscientious of his personal hygiene, but getting him to shower or brush his teeth since coming home is a major challenge.  Obviously, there are some signs of depression there, although he denies any depression.  My concern is more with what seems to be a desire to stay unwell.  When someone asks how he is doing, he says he is "terrible", and he told someone yesterday that the cardiologist said it is going to take him much longer than the usual 4-6 weeks to feel better -- the doctor said no such thing.  He actually said that dad looks great for just having 5-bypasses!  

When discharged, we were given NO literature or direction on what to expect, and "require" post-bypass, so I don't even know what to push for.  When I asked the cardiologist about this, his office had no literature, so I am still without clear information; internet searches have not been successful.  My father will start cardiac rehab today, and I will ask there as well, but I am wondering WHEN he might start feeling like not saying he is "terrible", or when he might want to walk without support (he never needed any kind of support before the surgery).  

Please know that we want only the best for my dad, and our worries are about him and what he should be doing, and how his recovery should be progressing.  Any feedback from those who have been there would be invited and welcome.  Certainly we don't want to push him too hard, but how much is too hard?  I would think getting dressed shouldn't be an over-exertion, but maybe that is normal?
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Avatar_m_tn
Sounds like he is doing quite well and recovering normally after bypass surgery.  Anyone that thinks you're going to feel better at 4 to 6 weeks post bypass is nutz.  I'd say try to get him up and moving around a little at a time--as much as he is able.  The feeling better should come around after 3 or 4 months.  The cardio rehab will likely bring some improvement.  He'll come around.  It just takes time......

That lack of info is a pet peeve with me.  They told me if I had trouble breathing or any unusual chest pain to see my doctor.  Let me tell you, after having your chest split open, it is a little difficult to breathe.  And it hurts like hell.  But, is that "unusual" chest pain??  For me, the not knowing what to expect was probably the hardest part of the whole ordeal.  It boggles my mind that doctors can not seem to see that the info is needed by and would be beneficial to the patients.  Perhaps if the were split open, they would be a little more empathetic.

If you can find some kind of a local support group, it might also help him feel better.

PS-it was about a year before I felt fairly "normal".
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Avatar_n_tn
Your dr sounds like my wifes dr. No direction.  At 71, after a few weeks, your cardiologist should be directing him into a cardiac rehab program where exercise is monitored.  Expect him to feel poorly for a while.  Some say 3-4 mos but it took my wife almost a year (she's alot younger).  Not only was his chest cracked open but his leg was cut for the vein, eyc.  It's a rough surgery.  Get on the cardiologists back and allow your dad plenty of time - he's right it may take longer than 4-6 weeks.  Dr's do not know everything and I'd like to see some of them have their chest opened - how would they respond then?.  
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Avatar_f_tn
my husband 53 had 5 bypass a little over a year ago , still unable to return to work even though cardiologist cleared him to work at 6 weeks post surgery he still suffers frequent chest pains memory loss and other issues point being everyone will recover differently because my father in-law had the same surgery just a week befor my husband at age 75 and 6 weeks post surgery he was out weed eating around the garden . the pain is unbelievable , my husband told me he did it once for our baby but come what may he will not do it again no matter what they tell him. he will accept death as an option... good luck and give dad time
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976897_tn?1379171202
I had a triple bypass at the age of 47 and believe me, it is the worst experience I have ever had in life. I had no idea the level of discomfort could be so bad and the fear factor plays a huge role. I was scared stiff to do anything for about three months in case my rib cage burst open, because it really felt as though it would. Patients generally know that the bones take at least 6 weeks to knit together and even coughing, sneezing is a scary and painful experience. I started cardiac rehabilitation 6 weeks after surgery and found it difficult, not believing things would ever improve. However, 10-12 months later I had no discomfort at all and my chest feels normal. Some people take longer than others to recover, but he will be governing his activities by how he feels. It is important not to 'push' him, he will start to show great improvement when his body allows it. I tried going for small walks about 2 weeks after surgery but it was too much effort. I still couldn't expand my chest fully to breath deep.
Another thing to take into account is the psychological issue. He will feel all kinds of strange things going on inside during recover. Even his skin will sometimes burn, feel cold or itch. As the nerves mend, the sensations are all over the place and you keep wondering if it is normal. It is. I even felt what was like cold water running down the inside of my chest and I wondered if a grafted vessel had fallen off or something. Some people hardly experience any discomfort, but those who do, I would not wish upon anyone. Depression is a major problem with bypass surgery, it's a real shock to the body and mind. I read a paper written by a cardiac surgeon who himself had to have bypass surgery and he said "I was trained to know depression is a common issue, but until experiencing it for myself, I never realised the extent of it". It's all very well listening to Doctors, but when you speak to people who have experienced it, you will get a very different story.
The sooner he speaks to people who have been through this, the better. I strongly suggest he goes to cardiac rehabilitation where you go through controlled exercise routines, monitored, you receive education and most importantly, you meet many others who have been through the same thing, some more than once. It is such a relief to hear everything you are going through is quite normal.
I hope this helps and please tell him from me that at times he will feel like things are not improving, or he is even going backwards in recovery, but he will get through it and be normal again. I felt nauseous until I could reduce to every day pain killers, and my appetite then really boosted too. That was after about 5-6 weeks.
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Avatar_f_tn
My husband had quadruple bypass in Jan. 2010.  He was started on Lexapro (an SSRI) while still in the hospital.  Depression is very common after heart surgery.  We both feel that this medication has made a huge difference in his recovery (and in dealing with some complications since surgery).  A friend who had bypass last year without the benefit of an antidepressant experienced a much harder recovery.  According to his wife, he was mean as a snake and pessimistic about his recovery and life in general.  He is much better now, but she wishes he would have had some meds to help his mood at the time.  My husband was just eager and ready to do whatever it took to get his life back, don't know what he would have been like w/o meds.  Cardiac Rehab will help also, having the support of others who have been there makes a difference.  Hope this helps.  
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