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Avatar universal

what is normal pain

I recently had double bypass surgery and I'm having alot of pain in the chest area that goes clear through to my back. I know there will be pain but the medications don't seem to work. I am a Female and my breasts hurt so bad. Is this a normal thing? I also have alot of clicking in the chest. I am unable to lift anything with my hands. It even brings me to tears when I have to blow my nose. Any suggestions would be a great help.
5 Responses
Avatar universal
If "recently" means 3 or 4 weeks, it sounds pretty normal.  A lot of nerves get disturbed in the process of the surgery, and it takes a while for them to get back to normal.
Avatar universal
They'll never get it--LOL.  As I told my dr., the worst pain, that lingered longest, was in breast tissue.  He looked at me blankly; I can't believe no one has told him that before.  [Some people think this has something to do with an apple and a serpent--?--but I'm almost sure it comes from the surgery.]  

Whoever did the first cut for my sternotomy wandered off the center line a half inch into breast tissue at one point, for an inch or two, and that was the only part of the incision that bothered me enough even to notice--it hung around for weeks, sometimes pretty unpleasant.  And don't even talk about the sharp pains shooting through the breasts as the stuff in your chest--that has nothing whatever to do with them--moves back to a permanent location, or the heart and pericardial sac move against each other, or just about anything.  I wore a bra 24 hours a day for--well, going on 3 months now--because tissue that moves with gravity when you lie down or turn over seems to pull on everything, including all the random holes where there were tubes and so on.  Often it's a sudden shot of pain, and it hurrrrts!  The good news, though, is that in my third month, that happens much less.  

Definitely ask your doctor, though.  ALWAYS ASK about pain you think is too severe or lasts too long or is in the wrong place, or changes, or you just don't understand.  Pain isn't always where you feel it (pericarditis, for example, is often felt as a sharp pain in the left shoulder joint, and as you say, almost everything is felt in the breasts).  He/she WANTS to identify anything that's happening as quickly as possible; a dozen false alarms are better than, say, letting an infection get a foothold.  My doctor doesn't blink at sending me down the hall to the outpatient lab for an x-ray or blood or ekg or whatever at any appointment.  One day, when he wanted an EKG without prior exertion like walking, he went himself to find a wheelchair and had his personal assistant push me down there, no waiting for hospital transportation.   This isn't like setting a broken leg or something, you know--your doctor wants, as much as you do, to rule out anything that might be starting to go wrong, and he or she knows how trivial by comparison is doing a few extra tests.  

As far as lifting goes, you aren't supposed to lift anything over 10 lb. for three months, anyway.  You really do get a new appreciation, though, of little tasks that involve the sternum.  Like blowing your nose--hospital volunteers here make the open-heart patients little extra-firm heart-shaped pillows for the open-heart patients to hold tightly against their chests whenever they cough or sneeze or any way do anything that puts pressure against the sternum, and it works.  I had to ask my son to open child-safe pill bottles---I was surprised to find that little action involves A LOT of pressure in the direction of pulling apart the halves of the sternum.

About the clicking--it would be a mechanical heart valve, only you didn't get one.  I'd ask about this, if only because having it clicking and not knowing what was going on would make me nuts.  For the pain in your back, have you tried heat?

All that weird pain in funny places will settle down, and you will learn to some extent how to move so as not to aggravate it.  Soreness will continue for a while, but that's no big deal.  

Feel better!      

Avatar universal
They'll never get it......Funny you should say that.  I ran into the same thing following my surgery.  They say to report any "unusual" pain.  Whenever I reported anything, I'd get that deer in the headlights look, as if to be saying they had never heard of THAT before.  Same with depression following bypass surgery.  It's extremely common, yet surgeons still give us that "gosh, never heard of that before" routine.

But on the brighter side, it does get better over time, and all's well that ends.............
Avatar universal
Although depression following heart surgery is so common as to be normal, I think there are still lots of doctors who (on some primitive level) still relate it to "mental illness," whatever THAT means.  And remember, surgeons are surgeons partly because they LIKE an unconscious patient who doesn't ask questions that derail their concentration--like, for example, by saying anything emotional or psychological or touchy-feely.  ;-)   There is a forum here with lots of posts about what to do about your surgeon after surgery--when he quickly loses interest and wanders away to cut up someone else.  

Good surgeons are stars in the medical world.  They are great guys.  We love them.  But after those two or three post-surgical visits, in which he is mostly interested in whether you have an infection in your pericardium or incision, it's really nice to go to, or back to your cardiologist, who is more receptive to conscious patients who talk and ask questions.

If you don't believe me, ask to my dtr or dtr-i-law, both M.D.s, about their friends who went into surgery.  I think they'd sum it up as, "lovable but awkward with humans."   :)
560109 tn?1220279867
I am Dr. Arch Miller and am on the reconstructive surgery forum. You will find on x-ray that in all likelihood you have several broken sternal wires and an unstable, un healed sternum. You will need a 3D CT scan  to document the problem. This is a common occurrence and treatment in the past has been minimal. With the onset of rigid fixation, these problems can be fixed. Please go to the web site rapidsternalclosure.com and you will see how your pain and clicking can be fixed. Dr. Scott Levin of Duke University, and Dr. James Spann and I in Tulsa Oklashoma are very good at fixing this problem. Please call and we can either schedule you or get you a referral to someone near you. Do not give up hope. This can be fixed, and it will improve your life.
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