28 October 2012

Some Things in Life ...

... are better not experienced personally. I can think of a few right here and now, but one that I definitely know now is this: very invasive open heart surgery.

I know because I had exactly that 16 days ago. It was a long standing issue I had since birth (though I never knew), which never manifested itself until a few years ago, and also one I knew since those few years ago I had to deal with at some point in my life when things started to get worse - and of course, at some point, they did.

Therefore, earlier this year my Doc suggested that I get over this and see a specialist, and also plan for the procedure later this year. So I went, saw a specialist, and was told it's always better to plan these things on your own schedule instead of having them done in an emergency situation - so I started planning.

Waiting for a quieter time at work was obligatory for myself, I'm just more relaxed when I know I have shipped a product, it's out for a while, people use it, there aren't too many bad bugs around it and overall work quiets down just enough to be not completely crazy. I determined that the best time would be somewhere mid to late October and so I called the surgeon in August. Somehow I managed to actually call them on my birthday, I really don't know what I was thinking but I got an appointment for the 12th of October and then the long, nervous wait started.

I went to the hospital in the very early morning of the 12th, was put under within about 45 minutes or so and woke up early in the afternoon in the CCU. Breathing tubes were still in, I was strapped to the bed, couldn't move, couldn't speak, was insanely weak and also insanely uncomfortable. I think it took another two hours until the tubing was taken out which was a major relief and the restraints were taken off (they were there so I couldn't hurt / injure myself or anybody else while waking up). I stayed in the unit for the night, incredibly weak and uncomfortable, under heavy pain killers and other medication I don't even want to start thinking about.

During the next day, some more tubing was taken out of my body, some of the catheters came out, too, and after the first walk in the hallway (I got about 30 meters or so until I was shivering from cold and weakness and had to sit down again), I was released to the Telemetry unit in the same hospital. My beloved wife Andrea was with me all the time! She was soooooo strong to go through this! I don't know how to thank her properly!

The Telemetry unit is probably called this because patients are wired for pretty much all life related signals, they probably also read thoughts and manipulate the future there ... Anyways, this unit was much more "normal" than CCU. I had a normal single bed hospital room for myself, thanks to good insurance, with its own bathroom, TV, and so on. The next few days there were fairly unpleasant, I was slowly getting better, but still on very strong pain killers every four to six hours as well as other medication and infusions. Most annoyingly, as some study revealed that low blood sugar helps with faster healing, I was pricked in the fingers every four hours for a blood sugar test and given insulin whenever the values were not at the lowest possible. Man, they poked every single one of my fingers a few times, I was so sick of this after a few days ... Basically I was probed, pricked, and poked every two to four hours. Even during the night!

Tuesday came, I was feeling okay, was stable, able to slowly walk around a little bit and – can you believe this – discharged from the hospital in the afternoon, giving to the loving care of my wife who had taken a few days off (part work from home, part off) to look after me. This is now 12 days ago and I've gotten better and stronger with each day.

Today, I'm on much, much weaker OTC pain killers, just twice a day, some other medication I'll have to take for a while, and I walk about 4 to 7km (~2.5 to 5.5 miles) per day outside, normally two or three walks of 30 to 35 minutes. Fortunately the weather has been very good most of the time and I can feel strength coming back. Very slowly unfortunately, but it is coming back. For the next few weeks there is a stringent walking exercise regimen I'll have to follow to build up my endurance again, but I think I'm on the best way to get there eventually. It'll just take time.

And you know what the worst of all this is? I can't ride my bike. I can't ride my bike for another freaking seven to eight weeks! It'll be Christmas by then. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh! My bike is sitting in the garage, hibernating peacefully and I sooooooo want to ride. I have cabin fever already and there's absolutely nothing I can do. I hate the situation. And Andrea can't even take the Tiger out for a long spin as she's not comfortable with the size and "newness" of it. The poor Tiger will have to wait for me getting back on my feet and getting my upper body usability and strength back. Poor Tiger! Boooooh!

Okay, enough rant - tomorrow I'll start working from home, that will get my thoughts occupied for a bit, but it still won't help all that much. I want to heal faster. Much faster.

Overall I'm very happy that this is done. It's not fully over, I still have to recover quite a lot, but the worst is done, I'm healing, I'll hopefully be 100% okay after a few months, and I'll be back riding as soon as is safe for me.

I can't wait ...


  1. You know that our thoughts were with you all the time. Wishing you a continued speedy recovery. And having a supporting partner at your side when the going gets tough is priceless.

    Gute Besserung!!!

  2. Thanks Sonja! Very much appreciated.

  3. Guido:

    I only wish you the best, the fastest recovery a person can have. I am happy and sad; Happy you managed to have this done under your own terms and so sad for you that you will not be able to ride, but you know that this is for your own safety.

    don't stress yourself during this time of healing and Listen to Andrea . . . (but I am sure you do anyway)

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

    1. Thanks to you, too!

      Yes, I'm listening and doing pretty much anything I can to get better. It the only way to recover fast.

  4. holy moly! my dad survived several open heart surgeries, i can imagine what you are going through. be well! the bike will welcome you back when you're ready. :)

    1. I certainly hope so. It's waiting patiently in the garage and I'm doing my best to get better. Thanks!!

  5. The good part is that once the healing takes place, you don't have to worry about a reoccurrence of the problem. Here's to a speedy and thorough recovery.

    1. That's what I'm hoping. According to the Doc, I should be 100% okay. Very happy about that.

  6. Thinking good thoughts of a fast and smooth recovery for you.

    Never any fun to be sick or recovering, but at least you did it on your terms. Good thing to stay off that bike lest you injure yourself and be off it a lot longer. Easier said than done, I know.

    1. Thanks for the good wishes. Right now it's actually not that hard to stay off the bike, I can barely carry my laptop from room to room - no way I could handle the Tiger. It'll be much harder four weeks from now when I feel basically okay, but muscles and bones still need more healing and strengthening.

      Still - can't wait ...