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Tips during hospital stay

From my experience having endured a bypass operation, how does what you do affect your stay in hospital and a speedy recovery? Great question, but these tips are only from my experience. It may not suit everyone but for me it worked very well.

 During your Hospital Stay

1. From the very first moment of entering hospital, keep a positive mental attitude. Keep telling yourself that whatever happens, you are now in the hands of people who definitely know what they are doing. Keep asking questions about your procedure, keep asking questions on how you can help yourself recover quickly after surgery. Whatever you do, remain calm, be polite to the people that are looking after you and try to have a sense of humour. This goes a long way in remaining in the good books of nurses!

2. However awful the hospital food is (believe me, I have tasted and seen some truly awful stuff), ensure you eat it....... ensure you keep eating the meals and if you are given a menu to choose from, choose wisely. Think of food that they don't necessarily have to microwave or food that is mass produced. Classic example...... jacket potato. They generally can't go wrong cooking that and this was one of my favourite meals because I knew no matter how they cooked it, generally you could eat the inside of a jacket potato even if the skin had been ruined or not to your liking, and the topping is generally cheese. They can't make a mistake with cheese. Its filling too, so a good choice all round for lunch or dinner if you get that choice. Salad is always good too. I never had a bad salad and I always had a generous helping of salad and cheese on my plate.

3. Whatever the nurse says is true. Don't argue, don't try to reason with them, they know their stuff and what they are doing and you wouldn't want to cross paths with a nurse you have upset!!

4. Exercise after surgery. The sooner you get out of bed and start walking the better. You will feel great and your progress will be quicker. My first steps were wobbly so don't expect much different, however the 2nd walk you do is going to be less wobbly and speedier down the corridor, so as soon as you can, get out of bed, get on your feet and start walking. DO NOT do this by yourself, ALWAYS ask the nurse to go for a walk and he/she will hook you up to a portable heart monitor and away you both go down the corridor for some well earned exercise. This is REALLY important. Please start walking as soon as you can.

Recovering at Home after a Bypass Operation

At last your home and all you want to do is sleep and get some decent food. I don't blame you, but please think about these points as you start your recovery. 


1. Check your medication that the hospital provided as you left. Get organised and ensure you know what you are taking and when.

2. Ensure you read the booklets, discharge summary and any handouts that were given to you by the hospital. These are vitally important to ensure your recovery is swift and safe.

3. Ensure you change your diet to what they suggest. This ensures your body gets the right fuel for recovery and more importantly, your heart has a better way to recover. Did you know that your heart is still suffering from the shock of surgery and therefore its important you do the very best you can for yourself and for your heart.

4. Exercise. Stick to what the booklets and handouts tell you, week by week. DO NOT overdo it, DO NOT try and be superman, there is a reason why you start off slow and small and slowly build up. Don't forget, your heart is still recovering from the shock of surgery.

5. Listen to your Cardiac Rehab Nurse. They have dealt with this many times before, so they know what they are talking about. They are trying to help you. Its a great opportunity to ask questions if you're not sure about how your progressing or if you feel like you want to do something, best to ask them first regarding exercise and healing of yourself.

6. DO NOT push yourself outside of your limits! You're going to be sore in the chest for weeks, so don't attempt to undo all the healing thats taking place by trying to lift things that you shouldn't. The booklets and handouts tell you not to push, pull or lift anything other than a mug of coffee especially for the 1st week. Don't forget, this is a long process of healing, you can't speed it up and if you do, then you have the potential to move bones in the chest area and an element of bones clicking as they are not healed yet. This can be disconcerting to hear and feel, so please don't do it. Just follow the advice and guidance and patience is a major factor here. Your body is going to take around 3 months to heal to the point where you can carry shopping. A rule of thumb, is if you lift something and it hurts, don't do it. Wait 2 weeks and try lifting the same thing again. If it hurts again, wait another 2 weeks! Patience.........



I am now at the 8 week point of recovery. I am recovering well and today I was thinking just how lucky I am to have survived my "widow maker" heart attack and get through the bypass operation. I am truly thankful to the surgeon and also my positive mental attitude for getting through the worst of it. I am still in the early days of recovery but I am really confident that I have many years ahead of me. Amen to the powers that be.


Additional Information whilst staying in Hospital


Do your research and find the best doctor, facility and overall recovery that your insurance will cover. (if you are in the NHS, then don't worry, you will get seen by the best surgeons in your area) This is really overwhelming when you find out your diagnosis. 
It’s a huge scary deal for you, but for the surgeons it’s another day at the office. 
Prior to surgery if you have an arranged surgery, not an emergency!
Focus on stretching, getting your legs strong by practicing getting in and out of chairs many times a day, strengthen your core sit-ups etc. and breathing exercises. Eat healthy, dodn’t drink alcohol, tryto sleep (which is hard) and do lots and lots of walking. Use a tracker pulse to ensure you are walking at the right speed not to stress my heart.
I can’t stress the breathing exercises enough (check out Wim Hof and others on You Tube). When you come out of surgery the pain from the incision and tubes are real, learning some techniques to deal with it will change your recovery.
Maintain a positive mental attitude, you can do this, you just need to get your head right, if given the advantage of time to prepare, take it seriously and work on positive thinking, it will change your outcome.
If you know someone who has been through it talk to them about their experience, it really helps to hear their stories. Sometimes it’s hard, to hear but trust me it will help get you mentally ready.
Coming off the ventilator is hard, but harder for your loved ones, they can’t ever be prepared for watching you have a machine keep you alive,
Identify a point person, have them set up a communication chain. Like me I expect lots of people will care about your outcome, however, it’s exhausting to try to keep all up to date. My son was keyman and he fed information down to family and for them to tell others. Your point person, texts your contact, who texts the other 20 on your behalf, this way your point person is not inundated with hundreds of texts, your key contacts help you manage this.
Bring a good eye mask and earplugs, it’s about impossible to get any real rest, it won’t be perfect, but it will help.
Be nice to your nurses, doctors and caregivers. They have a really tough job and they are there to help you despite what you might feel to help you. Get some nominal gift cards from somewhere, write some thank you cards in advance, or your point person can, you will be surprised what a £5 or £10 gift and showing appreciation will do for your care. A little thanks goes a long way towards your recovery, trust me, so many told me no one says thank you. These nurses make all the difference in your recovery from ICU to the step-down unit to the guy pushing your wheelchair.
Remember - You’ve got this.

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