Part 3 – The Journey: “The New Norm”

For anyone who has been to the hospital getting home is pure bliss! A patient that gets home is now in the recovery rehabilitation phase. My husband arrived home, and we were given instructions by the staff member helping with his discharge:

1. Need to get a Primary Care Dr.

2. Need to set up Cardiac Rehab

3. Need to get his medications

4. Home Health Care would be calling

5. Surgeon’s office was calling to bring over monitoring device

This had become our New Norm!

One of my first calls was to verify health insurance coverage for cardiac rehab. Primary Care Doctor appointment was set for later that week, we established contact for Cardiac Rehab, medications were gotten the day he got home. Home Health Care and the Surgeon’s Office did call the day we arrived home. He also had a Sleep Test that revealed he had sleep apnea. He would need a CPap machine.

In the beginning he was not able to be outside walking until he built up some strength, so he would get his steps by walking around the house to keep moving. I have a short video of him walking and our dog following him as he walks around the house. He started with Cardiac Rehab a month after surgery, and he got a great primary care doctor around the corner from where we live. We liked him so much our daughter now has him as her primary care doctor!

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The AFib that occurred while in the hospital, resolved itself until late October 2018. My husband started to feel tired, he could not breathe, he had no energy, his heart rate was all over the place…he was back in AFib. The cardiologist office was contacted, knew he was back in AFib, his next appointment was made with an electrophysiologist. This doctor recommended a cyroablation.

Cryoablation Defined“A cryoablation is used to restore normal electrical conduction by freezing tissue or heart pathways that interfere with the normal distribution of the heart’s electrical impulses.”

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He had also received the CPap machine and equipment. He needed to learn how to use it, the care and cleaning of the equipment. We learned that because insurance is paying for it, there is an urgency to get the CPap user comfortable and “up and running” with the CPap machine. In the beginning, he had a lot of trouble getting comfortable with the machine, using it and being able to feel like he could breathe.

To put this in perspective around the time my husband saw the electrophysiologist he was still in AFib and due to return to work. The doctor told him, “Some people will always have AFib, its not life threatening, you can work just let your body tell you how much you can do.”

While all this was going on…his place of work had been bought out and his department was going to be outsourced by a new company effective January 1, 2019. If he wanted to keep his current job he would need to reapply for his current position…everything from filling out an application for employment to drug testing. This is important to mention because anytime a patient has surgery especially the surgery he had, he was told over and over again in the hospital, “You’ll have good days and bad.” A patient’s success lies greatly in their mental well being. This employment wrinkle created tremendous stress as there were deadlines to be met, new software to learn to complete the necessary paperwork to meet the deadlines, while he was experiencing AFib and the possibility of another procedure the cryoablation.

He continued to be tired and in and out of AFib. To prepare for the cryoablation the electrophysiologist ordered a CT Scan of the chest. This was a test to verify my husband was ready for this procedure. This test revealed he had fluid in the chest cavity, his pulmonologist sent the order to have the fluid drained, which he had done and was approximately a liter. Being in and out of the hospital he developed cold symptoms, that turned into a sinus infection. Mid December 2018 he went to Urgent Care since his sinus infection was not getting better. He found out he had pneumonia and a chest X-ray revealed fluid had returned to his chest area!

A few days later he returned to the hospital to again have fluid removed, this time about 2 liters of fluid was removed from his chest cavity. He returned home to heal and recover from pneumonia, having the fluid drained, to enjoy the holidays, get ready for cryoablation, and a 2019 new employer/same job adventure.

Stay tuned for Part 4 – The Journey: “Getting to the Other Side”

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