Heart surgery recovery and roller coasters

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I was pretty sure week 7 of recovery was not supposed to look like this.

I’ve never recovered from open heart surgery before and hope its something I never have to experience again. I always thought during recovery you progressively started feeling better. Although previous knee and back surgeries have been difficult, nothing has compared to the “roller coaster” recovery this has been.

I’ve decided I don’t like roller coasters. The chunk, chunk, chunk up the steep incline can be exhilarating as you get a breathtaking view of your surroundings …but the shear drop at the top or the sudden decent backwards can be terrifying, nauseating or worse.

The word “roller coaster” was used to describe what heart surgery recovery would be like when I was in the hospital the first time, but I must have been picturing the old roller coasters that descended and twisted at fast but non-life-threatening rates and not the near-death experiences of modern roller coasters. Heart surgery recovery is the kind of roller coaster that takes you upside-down and backwards through dark tunnels at death-defying rates.

Recovery Day 1 – I was able to get out of bed to push a wheel chair for short distances and felt pretty good talking to visitors in ICU.

Recovery Days 2-4 I could barely get out of bed and didn’t feel like talking to anyone.

Recovery Day 5 – I was walking laps around the hospital floor and was going home.

Recovery Weeks 2-4 – I worked up to walking two miles a day, but also had days I could barely get out of my chair and felt I would never get better. Brief attempts to work on the computer or write left me feeling weak and nauseous for hours.

Recovery Week 5 – I started picking up the pace during my walks, drove my daughter to school twice, got out kayaking for an hour and went to the beach twice — once to shore fish.

Recovery Week 6 – I felt like I was going to faint, have another heart attack or both and was rushed by ambulance to the emergency room. After being released I could barely get out of my recliner all week, my heart was pounding, I had a few panic attacks and by the end of the week my family doctor said I looked awful and had me admitted to the hospital for four days.

Recovery Week 7 – After four days of tests nothing wrong was found and eventually my strength started improving with periods of steep-drop weakness. My pulse, blood pressure and sugar levels stayed within safe and normal ranges. I mentally cancelled my plans for getting back to the office soon, teaching at church or hunting this fall.

According to all current data I’m just riding one of those modern death-defying roller coasters they call recovery from open heart surgery. Just like the miracle of not dying from my heart attack in April and finding the blockage three months later before it killed me, I have to trust that the Lord will reveal any serious health issue before it becomes a problem because the doctors just can’t find one.

Thank you for praying for the recovery of my family as well. This roller coaster ride is very wearing on them too.

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  1. Barry E Denise Spor  October 15, 2013

    Wow. That is hard bro. May you find Father God faithful giving peace and comfort when all else seems to say diff

  2. Bill Roth  October 9, 2013

    Dear David, I fight back tears hearing about your slow recovery. I continue to pray for you and the family. I could give you all kinds of scripture I guess, but what matters is just knowing GOD is right there in the midst of your life, with you and loving you. And your friends are right here to love and assist you in any way.

    • David Abbott  October 10, 2013

      Thank you so much for praying Bill!

  3. Stephanie Noel  October 8, 2013

    Continuing to pray for your recovery and that the journey smooths out soon.

  4. Jonathan  October 8, 2013

    Hey David,
    Wow, what a challenge you are facing. I can’t imagine what it must be lake. Praying for you now and God Bless you and your family as you travel this dark path.

    • David Abbott  October 8, 2013

      Thank you for praying Jonathan!