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months after triple bypass
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months after triple bypass

I am a 46 yr old female, severe coronary disease, heart attack and triple bypass 5 months ago.  cholesteral went from 340 to 109, ldl's 34, tri's went from 2786 to 189.  60 units of lantis once a day for diabetes, sugar has been 110/130 in am.  smoked for 18 yrs (its a battle now to stay off). I take Coreg/25mgs 2x a day along with potassium, bumex (diuretic), synthroid, metformin, vytorin and tricor(both for cholesteral)81 mgs  asprin and vasotek.  ejection refraction has gone from 27 to 39, go to gym to continue cardio rehab 4 days a week.  still 30 lbs overwieght, coming off slowly. my husband was wonderfull in my care.
1. I usually feel pretty ok, but still have pain in my sternum, closer to the base of my left breast (mammory vein used), ibuprofen seems to help alot.  the pain gets worse as my period gets closer to starting.  I also seem to retain alot more water, harder time breathing, legs seem like lead, as I get closer to starting.  Once I start, the symptoms ease up. I do not have any symptoms when I go to the gym as far as feeling weak, tired, pain.
2. why do they not prepare you for the emotional rollercoaster that you wind up on.  every doctor looks at me like I just stuck a jellybean up my nose. I feel fear, anxiety, what is this new pain? should I run into the doctor, they were wrong last time, are they still?  Right before the heart attack, i was into the doctor 3 days in a row complaining of pain in my sternum.  I was told to go home, quit whining and have a tums.  I went home and had a heart attack instead. I guess what I am looking for is some support
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239757_tn?1213813182
lynnie,

Sorry to hear of your events.  

1. I usually feel pretty ok, but still have pain in my sternum, ......symptoms when I go to the gym as far as feeling weak, tired, pain.

It takes quite awhile to really fully recover from bypass. A median sternotomy is a significant procedure. What you describe is not out of the ordinary. It really sounds like you are on a pretty good course though,

2. why do they not prepare you for the emotional rollercoaster that you wind up on. every doctor looks at me like I just stuck a jellybean up my nose. ..... I guess what I am looking for is some support

Most likely the pain you are feeling is related to the healing process that is taking place from your surgical wound. It's hard to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. Most physicians haven't had open heart surgery so it's hard to be familiar with eveything a patient goes through. I really encourage patients to participate in peer support groups for these reasons.

The last thing I would want is for a young woman to have a heart attack that I missed. I would imagine the same goes for any physician. Sometimes we miss things because heart issues are not perfectly characteristic, especially in your women. I would discuss your concerns with your physician and if that does nothing to allay your concerns, perhaps find a new provider you are more comfortable with.

good luck
21 Comments
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97628_tn?1204465633
Sounds like you need another doctor.
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Avatar_n_tn
after the heart attack i did find another doctor, after the first one got a piece of my mind. the cardiologist and new doctor have taken excellent care of me. I find I am having trouble dealing with the emotions that come after major surgery and have resisted the thought of taking antidepressants. i would like to talk to anyone who is going through the same stuff.
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97628_tn?1204465633
I am glad you told the other one off. There are many people here who can offer you support and feel just awful about this.
I hope the CC doc can give you some good advice about seeking support.  I think, perhaps, more doctors should make counseling part of the Rx for their patients especially after such a trauma as yours.
Prescribing pills and  giving behavioral instructions is all good and well, but there needs to be another person involved, one that knows how to help people deal with their feelings. Patients should all go see a counselor at least once, certainly after a traumatic event like a heart attack, and perhaps even some for events that are not as serious, but from which they can't seem to recover by themselves.

Everyone needs help now and again and you are very smart and brave for seeking it out.
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Avatar_n_tn
I would have to say the biggest fear I have gong now, is that I hate being alone for long periods of time and truly hate driving on the thruway by myself.  I agree with you though.  I think that counseling should be part of the the cardiac rehab. I feel like a hyercondriac.  I am so used to getting things done on my own and to keep going till its done, and now I find that I am slowing down, get tired faster and scare myself. I realize that I have had heart failure (the reason for the coreg), but for how long am I going to be a slow moving train? will the pain in my stermum ever go away? And I hate the scar on my chest.  I had one decent thing on the whole body here and they had to cut right down the middle. ( If I had no sense of humor over this, I would be one miserable person to be around)
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Avatar_n_tn
does a doctor look at these and give his/her opinion?
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97628_tn?1204465633
Yes, this is the forum the docs answer :-)
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61536_tn?1340701763
There are usually community support groups for people who have gone through this so they can offer each other support.  I think that would be a great place to start.  Call your local hospital and see if they know of one in your area.  I bet they will.  Also check into online post bypass support groups.

I do know that other women who have experienced heart issues, particularly when a decreased ejection fraction is in the mix (even if the EF has gone back to normal) it isn't uncommon for hormone shifts at period time to bring on some symptoms like you describe with yours.  I experience this, and I had a very mild EF decrease due to a pregnancy-related condition.  It seemed even with recovery of my EF, my period symptoms (i.e. palpitations, increased swelling) did not improve.  My thought on that is that while we may heal, we may not be exactly the same.

Bypass surgeries can be a real emotional whirlwind, especially for a woman of your age, you're young to be going through this.  I hope you can find some support, because you're definitely not alone in your feelings.  I wish you well on your road to recovery.
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Avatar_n_tn
Oh you poor dear.I can empahize with you though.I had a heart attack exactly 1 year ago today,and I had it at night.I was afraid to go to sleep,and dreaded the night time.Also I kept a bag packed figuring i would have to go to the hospital anytime.
Then came to bypass,and you are right about them not preparing you emotionally for this surgery.
I developed an afib condition after it and was put on a medication that might have had bad side effects.
I would not go anywhere,make any appointments,because i was afraid I would have an afib attack,and did not understand this condition at all.
I still won't travel,and would really like to visit my daughter in Atlanta.
I don't know anybody with this afib.
So,I found a group through the hospital called"Getting better Together",and I am looking forward to it.
It has taken me a year to come to terms with the heart attack,now I am tackling getting over the surgery & afib.
The folks on this site are great.Someone always has good advice from experience for you.
God bless you,and try find a group where you can voice your fears and frustrations.
polly
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi,

Wow, sounds like you have been through one heck of a ride.  What you're going through reminds me of my mother's battle...she got progressively worse (was having silent infarcts) and her doctor told her she was menopausal and just having muscle aches--she collapsed 2 days later and needed 5 bypasses, and later fem artery bypasses.

Heart patients go through some very difficult things.  Finding the right doctor is essential--some are better at dealing with the very serious emotional side as well as they physical issues of heart disease.  I highly suggest finding a doctor that you can talk to.  Having an invasive cardiologist to do "stuff" and a preventative cardiologist (a cardio that takes on all the other issues in life leading to heart disease) is like a 1-2 punch to the problem.

All you can do is try your best.  Quitting smoking is key, but must be done in a rational manner--anyone that yells at a smoker isn't helping--one must support.  Controlling all risk factors such as diabetes and lipids is a must....you want to keep those grafts open.

You're in good company here, and many suffer from some ugly heart conditions.  Congrats to you for wanting to feel better.  So many heart patients just lose confidence (and their doctors dismiss them) and don't move forward.  With heart disease, you have to fight this like a giant dragon.  Sometimes it takes a while to get the dosages and right meds.

Good luck!
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi,

I can sort of relate in a different way.

I am 41yo and I developed congestive heart failure, signs of liver failure, severe breathing problems and some neuromuscular weakness after the birth of our third daughter in Nov 05.  My ejection fraction has come up and I am doing ok but not wonderfully one year later.  

With three kids to deal with and all that entails, I started to suffer from symptoms of depression, crying daily, insomnia etc, etc.  It took me about 5 mths to agree to take lexapro for depression and pain managment (I have 5 fractues in my vertebrae too, from steroids and heparin), it worked really well and I would highly recommend you trying something.  

You have been through significant trauma with your heart attack and surgery.  Its not unreasonable for you to have anxiety and some symptoms of depression.  Its also not the way you have to live for the rest of your life.  You could let time do the trick, you could see a counsellor (which I really think is a great idea if you can do it) and or you could try anti anxiety/depression meds.  

Personally I wish I had gone on lexapro earlier than I did.  I have great support from my hubby, friends who are physicians (incl a cardiologist and psychiatrist - both of whom know me really well) plus my PCP is awesome, he or his nurse called me most days when I was really a mess, physically and mentally.  I got lucky I guess.

My Mom had a heart attack a few mths ago and she is suffering anxiety about doing things too.  Its hard to hear her go through it (she is in another country).  I guess I look at it all differently, for me its about living, for her its about dying.  She always sees the glass half empty, for me its half full.  Beyond a few days post diagnosis, I really did not focus on the possiblities of ending on a heart or liver transplant list as they suggested could happen.

Not sure if my ramblings have helped at all, but I do hope that things continue to improve and that you feel better sooner rather than later.  I know that the scar is an issue now, but honestly its a small piece of you and it will fade with care and time.  You may find that massaging it with Vitamin E cream daily will help, the physio showed me how to massage my C sect scar properly and it definitely improved it.

As far as your weakness goes, have you had your ferritin levels checked recently?  Just a thought to consider.  Its a reflection of your iron stores, not so much your hemaglobin.  

Wishing you well, this will get better soon.

Fiona
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Avatar_n_tn
You are the 4th person in the past 2 weeks that I have heard has gone through a major depression after heart surgery.  In fact, my family and I were just talking about this over the holidays.  We lamented that every single person we have known close to us who has had heart surgery has suffered depression afterwards.  

I don't know how you feel about taking anti-depressants, but one of our friends finally resorted to it after he couldn't handle the depression anymore.  It has helped him tremendously with the loneliness, anxiety and sadness he felt after his surgery.  Have you considered this?  I wonder if it would help you as well.

My heart goes out to you.  Best of luck.
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Avatar_n_tn
I would like to thank you all for your support and kind words.  it's so nice to know that others understand what I am talking about. Even though my husband has been great, I keep alot of things away from him, he has enough to worry about. I can't help feeling like most of this is in my head and if I would grow up and stop being a worry wart, it would go away.  I wasn't expecting a wake up call this early.  I did learn that when it comes down to it, your family is what you need.  I learned of others who were sent home and had no one to care for them from the traveling nurse who came to see me for the 1st 3 weeks.  for starters, it made me very grateful for what I have at home. Second, this is when I realized that something is needed for emotional support (family is to worried if you're going to drop over or not) and 3rd, I think that care should be provided for those who do not have it. I will go to the doctor and discuss my issues and try to get over them.  thank you to all
Lynn
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Avatar_n_tn
I had bypass surgery 4 months ago, and no one does prepare you for the emotional feelings you have afterwards.  I did not notice it so much at first, but it seemed to happen later.  I find myself not wanting to do much.  I am a teacher and have been very excited doing things with students.  I am not teaching yet.   One of the people on the site said lonely, sad, etc.  I think that says a lot for me.  I have blamed it on moving, but I do not think that is the problem.  I wish  they had groups or people one could contact.  I don't think anyone understands fully the feeling, and I would not expect them to.  I did not realize I would feel like this either.  I have been refused rehab because I still have jaw pain and some chest discomfort.  I went to the gym the other day and did the treadmill very slowly.  I am still going through tests which I do not really want to get invloved with right now.   If I can help you in anyway, let me know.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello, I am going through some of these same issues with my brother, except he still hasn't recovered and could be suffering from CHF, still not diagnosed...In my research, I found a group that may possibly be national...but you can find them through the American heart Assoc...called "mended Hearts"
support groups...

bless you all
take care
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Avatar_n_tn
Save,
actually just posting and having people answer and not think its in my head has helped alot.  You feel like you are all alone in this. I dread the idea of dropping over (I was diagnosed with heart failure and put on coreg)getting sick again and having no one around.  I actually carry the house phone in my pocket when i have to go off the main rooms.  i sleep with my hand on my husbands shoulder, just in case.  I am hoping that this will eventually go away.  My oldest daughter still calls me twice a day to check on me, she is positive I won't be around. I understand exactly how you feel.  I want reassurance that i am doing all that is needed, that the surgery did what its supposed to do, that i'm all better and don't need to think constantly how close i came to dying.  Do you still get tired out early in the day?  i manage now to stay awake until 930, but i fight to stay awake.  staying awake means that you dont need to take it easy and rest. Isn't that dumb, but thats the way I feel.
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Avatar_n_tn
Just alittle background..im one yr 3x cabg.48/m...and let me tell you..you are no different than any one else with this..they never told me what to expect mentally after all the healing went on..i still get depressed..still have pain around chest area..pain in my left arm..cardo dr. assures me im all right  ..just nerve and muscles healing...after a year i thought i could move on..but for some reason ...every time i get confince ill have some kind of panic episode..were i feel all the pain of a heart attach.i worry contantly that things arent all right..dr.kept tring to convince me to go on zoloft or paxil...say it will help..i just dont want a nother pill running my life...i got enuff of them..tal;king about on forums like this help..knowing other feel the same ..and that i am not nuts...lolo..so dont worry about what you feel.it sorta normal..its all how you move on with it..hope some of this made sense.....good luck..
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Avatar_n_tn
I know about the panics.  this morning while driving into work, i felt like i couldn't breath.  i have no pain anywhere, just short of breath which makes me even more paniky.  i only want to get to get into work where there are people. once there and I calm down, I'm fine.  it takes about a 1/2 hour to get calm.  i, like you, do not want to be on any more pills.  i was on an antidepressent  2 years ago and it made havic with my life.  you lose your interest in your spouse (major complaining started) i felt like i couldn't get control, i didn't care if stuff went down the drain.  i've been sitting here for 20 min and i'm just starting to get calm.  I don't think I need an antidepressent, just a mimosa (champagne and oj) The doctors are quick to write up something, but they haven't been through this, so i don't think they get the whole picture.
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Avatar_n_tn
i see you understand exactlly what to do ..but like me it just hard to control and comes out of nowhere fine one minute and next you get all edgy and panicy...and it is hard to hide..but nothings better then when you finily calm down...have this by pass may have saved my life..but has brought on a new round of issues..but im dealling with then...like you said a glass of champange/oj...does it..hahah.i hope you get over all this .and that i get over this..stay in touch  ..maybe if you learn some techence on how to deal with it you can share them on here...
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Avatar_n_tn
Sorry that I am late in answering you.  I do not have the energy that I had before the surgery.  I sometimes lay down for 15 min. and it helps.  Some people tell me that it takes them a year or more to feel energy come back.  I read that depression is very common among cardic patients.  I had an internist come to my room and tell me that all heart surgery patients experience some kind of depression.  I can notice a change in myself.  I often wonder about the heart lung machine.  It can shower the brain with tiny particles (microemboli) arising from the the heart-lung bypass pump.  There are also a lot of chemical changes going on in the body and brain with the surgery.  They really need to help patients with the psychological changes that are happening to them.  It is not a good feeling to not feel like oneself.  I have been told that I can not do rehab because of jaw pain and some chest pressure.  I have been very active with exercise, and I feel that exercise would help me with any depression that I am experiencing.  I don't like the feeling of not wanting to do much.  I force myself back to school to help out some, and it does help to be with people.  If you have any other questions or advice for me, let me know.
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Avatar_n_tn
3 yrs post op and in the best shape of my life.  Use this surgery to re-start your life.  Make diet and exercise a daily routine. Treadmills are great because they let you easily track your progress.  You can monitor your speed and distance, and in no time at all, will find yourself going faster and further with less effort.  The tightness in the sternum will deminish and ultimately disappear.
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A related discussion, bypass surgery was started.
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A related discussion, breathing problems after bypass was started.
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