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Recovery after Bypass Surgery
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Recovery after Bypass Surgery

my dad (66) had a triple bypass surgery 20 days ago. He was released from the hospital 5 days after the operation. He is walking, doing some simple house tasks and eating well. But he still has a lot of pain for several hours a day. He has trouble sleeping as well. Is this level of pain normal? (surgeon used a vein from his chest). How long is it normal for such pain to persist? how do you know that he is healing ok? from the outside his chest is ok and the scar is healing well and he has had no fever.

I would also like to know how do you make sure his lungs are back to normal? while in the hospital he was being asked to practice breathing but he doesn't anymore. Anything he needs to do to make sure he's breathing correctly again?

Lastly, how long before my dad can fly again? I have heard that bypass patients are advised to refrain from flying for a while.

Thank you for your help.
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear NA,
Most patients are discharged from the hospital 5 to 7 days after uncomplicated bypass surgery.  The recovery time at home following that is usually 2-4 weeks before resuming work.  After this the continued recovery may last 6 months to a year before feeling back to 100%.  Sometimes incisional pain may persist for quite some time.  If it continues to be a problem a chronic pain specialist may be consulted.  

As far as the lungs usually no specific therapy is necessary after hospital discharge unless his doctor has recommended otherwise.  The breathing exercises in the hospital are designed to avoid in-hospital complications such as infections and poor air exchange.
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Avatar_n_tn
It is very normal to have trouble sleeping after the surgery.  My husband had 9 bypass 2 1/2 year ago.  His doctor at the time gave him meds to help him sleep if he had trouble.  Also, the breathing my husband had a "machine" that he had to blow into, but after he could repeatly get the ball to go to the top he didn't need to continue.  He didn't need to do that very long (less than a week).  The pain could be muscular, but after what he's been thru, some pain is normal.  My Dad had bypass last summer and he looked rough for 3-4 months afterward.  Your Dad should do the rehab to get back on his feet.  Good luck, its very scary, and the recovery does take 4-6 months at least.  My husband still has pains (he was 43 years at the time of his surgery).  Give your Dad some time, my Dad is doing great after a year.
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Avatar_n_tn
I am not a physician but I had open heart surgery for a heart defect at age 52.  Speaking only as one who has gone through a similar open chest procedure, I would think considering everything you said, your Dad's only problem is perhaps expecting too much, too soon.   While there are complications which only medical personnel are trained to diagnose and treat, I must say I agree with the other respondent, 20 days is way too short a time to expect to be pain free able to sleep at night. Recovery comes in stages and we learn to appreciate those small milestones.  Although there are different thoughts on this, I can't say I think Drs. always do patients a service by giving unrealsitic estimates of recovery time...I have met several people who took weeks/months longer than they thought they were told by the Doc. It was several months after my surgery that I reallly felt like I was on a steady path to really feeling better.  Heart surgeons are gifted physicians and save lives on a daily basis, but healing is between the patient and nature with the surgeon only able to give best estimates.  Aside from the heart condition, overall health can also play a role. Finally, don't disregard the fact that some people get depressed and worried after heart surgery which surely can interrupt sleep and worsen sensitivity to pain.  Don't think we men are immune to this.  Best of luck to you and your Dad.  He's fortunate to have you to care for him.  Take care of yourself too...heart surgery recovery involves everyone close to the patient as well.
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