6 weeks post AVR Part 2

by Barbara Y
(Cheshire, UK)

Here I am with the rest of my story so far.

Click here to read Part 1

It takes almost 2 weeks before the dreadful swelling starts to go down and every day blood tests taken (at least once) and blood cultures. My white cell count is proving to be a worry as they cannot find the cause of the infection. It's suspected that it is from the pacemaker site though it doesn't look inflamed in any way. All the time I continue to feel very, very nauseous. At last the blood results start to normalise and the consultant starts talking about just needing to make a few little tweeks. A potassium drip follows, then sodium, something else, then magnesium. By this time I had so many canula or needle marks I looked like a junkie, and it was becoming difficult to find veins to use as one by one they collapsed. However, almost as soon as the magnesium drip started the canula site became very,very painful and I began to feel very hot and clammy, and light-headed. I tried to fight it for a miute or two but realised something was very wrong and pressed the buzzer for the nurse. She ran in to me and said I was as white as a sheet and immediately took my blood pressure. It was 50 over 20 something and falling! I was taken off the drip immediately, made to drink water and given one or two injections to try to bring my blood pressure up. After a few very tense minutes it started to rise again and all was well. It was decided that I had had a bad reaction to the magnesium and wouldn't be given any more.

Now the swelling was going down and my blood was heading in the right direction the consultant started talking about me going home for Easter. At last on the evening of Thursday 5th April I was allowed home - 24 long days after being admitted to hospital! I had been told I would be in for 5 - 7 days. Although I felt far from well it was a really good feeling to be home again. Good Friday saw me feeling more and more ill as the antibiotics I had been given by drip in hospital were now going into my stomach. I could barely eat or drink anything and by late afternoon I was being physically sick. We realised that the medication I was on would be ineffectual if I was being sick, so my husband got me an appointment with an emergency doctor at our local hospital after phoning Wythenshaew for advice. It seems I should have been given anti sickness pills on leaving the hospital so that is what the emergency doctor gave me. Problem over ? Not really. I did stop being sick but the nausea never really went away and is still there to this day.

We got through Easter with visits from all the family and flowers and cards arriving in abundance. It was lovely seeing everyone, especially the grandchildren I'd not been able to see in hospital. Normally Easter sees me in chocolate heaven but I didn't have any. I just didn't fancy it! Still nothing tastes as it should and I'm not enjoying eating or drinking anything. My husband has taken the week off work to make sure I don't do anything except relax and follow the exercise regime I've been given. We have a couple of outings to the shops and my parents house and to my daughter's new house - she moved in the day I came out of hospital. I felt guilty that I hadn't been able to help at all. Normally I would have looked after the grandchildren whilst my husband helped with the move. I feel very glad to be able to do some little things about the house again but can't believe how tired I feel.

Second week back home sees my husband back at work and friends take over visiting me and taking me out to lunch, garden centres etc, just for a welcome change of scene. Think I'm beginning to feel a bit better at last. At the end of the week I have to return to Wythenshawe to check that my pacemaker is working properly and to have another chest x-ray and blood tests. Pacemaker is working perfectly (thank goodness), x-ray shows that the small amount of water that had been in the bottom of my lungs has now gone but the blood test is still not quite right. I must have another locally in a weeks time and send the results to my consultant.

Last weekend was busy. We did the supermarket shop in the morning, which was O.K. then, because it was quite bright and sunny and the National Trust had a free weekend, we decided to drive out to Lyme Park (about an hour away but somewhere we hadn't visited before). The house is set in acres and acres of parkland and I knew I wouldn't be up to the sort of walking I used to do. There was a lake just below where the car park was. It appeared to be a very gentle slope. We went down with no trouble. Coming up was a different story. I couldn't walk more than a couple of yards without getting breathless! This isn't right surely, its almost 6 weeks since my op? We eventually make it back to the car park and to the information centre. We can see the house above the car park up a series of steps separated by flat walking. I decide to give it a go. I manage four lots of steps and again I'm gasping for breath. Feel like my heart will burst and quite frightened but don't want to alarm my husband so play down the way I am feeling somewhat. We turn back and wait for the shuttle bus. We eventually get to the house and I manage fine walking round the rooms, only getting breathless on climbing stairs, luckikly there aren't too many of them. We've had a lovely day just a pity about the breathlessness.

Monday comes and my husband picks up my latest blood test results from my GP. They reveal I am once again anaemic and my white cell count is high yet again. My GP won't act on the findings so I must send a copy off to my consultant at Wythenshawe. He will get them tomorrow. I am dreading him saying I must be readmitted to hospital or be put on the cocktail of pills and antibiotics I was on before. We will have to see.

This whole experience has turned out to be far worse than even I had imagined. I knew I would feel bad for a while - don't forget I had no symptoms before going into hospital. If you asked me today, without hesitation I would say no op, I'd take my chances. At the moment I feel a million miles from feeling fit and well and I have so many questions to ask the consultant when I see him again in about 6 weeks. The only positive I can see is that my scar is not going to be an issue. It is barely noticeable even now. For that I will be eternally grateful. I just want to feel like me once again.

Watch this space for an update on my progress. Hopefully Part 3 will be on a far more positive note!

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