Mom's Open Heart Surgery - Your Experiences?

Updated on July 07, 2010
J.W. asks from Framingham, MA
6 answers

Hi all. I am new here but found this great site while googling information on open heart surgery. My mom (64) was told a week ago that next week she will be having her aortic valve replaced. This from a woman who has never had more than a cold! My mom is my best friend in the world and I know the success rate on this particular surgery is great, but really as far as surgeries go they don't get much bigger than this. Anyway - I just really wanted to hear from people who have been there and if you can offer any advice about how to get through the next few weeks - my dad is here to take care of her, but of course I worry about him too. Thanks !!!

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answers from Las Vegas on

I mom had an aortic valve replacement back in 2000. At the time, my mother was about 10 years older than your mother is now and also had some other health issues going on that may have slowed down her recovery time. I wasn't caring for her at the time but I seem to recall that she was in the hospital for probably about 3 weeks and she did recover well from the surgery. The doctors, nurses and all of the hospital staff seemed to take really good care of her while she was there.

I'm sure that, since your mom is younger and has better stamina than my mom had, she will recover a lot sooner than my mom did. Sending you prayers of healing and strength.



answers from Indianapolis on

My Mom went through open heart surgery in 1988.......and I learned all that I could so when the doctors came in talking, I knew what they were saying or at least most of it..........Just be there for them both...........make sure Mom does what the dr. tells her to do.........AND make sure you AND your Dad are there for the instructions on what she can and can't do........that's a big one..........because if she feels better, she'll want to do more.........don't let her.

Make them supper once in a bit, and just be around.........don't pamper her too much, but enough to let her know that she is going to behave herself......

Unfortunately, my Mom had fluid build up around her heart and she died 3 weeks after her surgery.......BUT, that was a long time ago and things have gotten so much better, plus she had only one good vessel left to her big difference here.......

Just be yourself, finds things that Mom likes to do, maybe crosswords to keep her mind active, but body not.........or'll figure something out......

Just be there for them both......enjoy the time together and they will know you love them.........

I'll say a prayer for you all tonight......take care.....


answers from Little Rock on

My Grandfather had 2 replacements and 1 triple bi-passes when I was about 11 and 14. He was a very strong man. He always had a possative out look on life. He always said, if you think negative it will turn out negative. My gramps live 12 yrs after is 3 bi-pass. He past from something non related. At the time he too was my best friend. And now my huband his my best friend.

So keep possative thoughs and re-asure her she "Can and Will beat this thing."..... And that the family will be there when she needs you..... just like all the times she was there for you!! It is your turn to help her if you are able and she will love it.
I always tell my folks that when it is there time they don't and won't ever have to worry that they will not be take care of no matter what.
Take Care Cuz I Care. Prayers R with you and your family!!
C. C.


answers from Washington DC on

my dad had a quadruple bypass about 7 years ago. i can't imagine life without my weird, wonderful big daddy. he just got back from a trip to africa, and is getting ready for one to bermuda. he does competition ballroom dancing. he never stops.
they have become SO good at this surgery. of course it's a huge deal, but your mom couldn't be having this at a better time in history. she just needs to be very careful during her recovery, the dance between keeping moving (very important) and not overstressing that healing chest.
good luck!


answers from Boston on

Hi J. -
I'm sorry about finding out your mom needs this surgery. I kow it can be very scary.
I do have a lot of experience with this. My mom had open heart surgery twice. Unfortunately, unlike your mother, my mom never took good care of herself, and heart didease ran heavily in her familly as it was.
She had an emergency quadruple by-pass about 13 years ago. Then about 8 years ago, had an aneurysm under the heart, which was about as good as a huge heart surgery. Both, for her, were very, very long recoveries. But then, my mom was not in great shape to begin with. She was a fighter however....a BULL, really. The docs didn't expect her to survive either surgery,,,,,,,but she did both times. And went right back to her unhealthy ways.
Anyway....I think what you moat need to know, is that it is so hard to see your mother, who you love so much, go through such a thing. The recovery process is a hard time span. Even for me, knowing my mom put herself in the situation every time, by refusing to take care of her health, I loved her. Where you are so very close to your mom, I am sure it'll be very hard on you. It's wonderful that your dad is there to care of her. I think tyou both need to be awarte, if yuou have never had experience with such a thing, that the drugs they give the patient, to tolerate the pain and get enough test, can really mess with their personality. My mom had horrible reactions to morphine....and would not only have absolute terros in her sleep, but hallucinate while she was awake. It was not the best drug for her, nd they switched to somehting else. My aunt just recently had a bowel surgery, and she has had the same reactions to morphine, so watch out for that, and request they try something else.
Also, I think it is pretty common for some form or level of depression to set in for the patient. Their body is going through so much, and the pain, lack of rest, laying around and lack of change of scenery can really bring them down. They may feel like they will never get better, because it is a long recovery, and the days and nights just all get blended together, for the patient, but also everyone who is really involved in their care. But you also want to watch for and acknowledge their physical improvements day by day, including their spirit, and celebrate every victory!! It brings hope and proof, if you lok back a week+, that the healing pricess is indeed going forward. What's more, when your mom is fully recovered, she will likely apprecaite LIFE and each day, more than ever! (My mom was a different story....she was happy again, but she had smoking addictions, etc.). Most embrace life in a whole new way, with so much more zest for life, and appreciation for those they love. It also can really strengthen relationships. There are definitely 'blessings' that come out of hard roads such as this one, so don't miss them! They are the gifts you earn, at the end of such a tough journey, together.
PLEASE feel free to e-mail me at any time. Especially after her surgery, if you are struggling and need any support. You can reach me through my e-mails, or through my blog ourhouseofjoyfulnoise dot com.
Best wishes!! If you can give me your mom's first name, I'd love to put her on our family Prayer List chalkboard here in our home. It keeps the whole family praying, for those who could use them.
~ Laura


answers from Kansas City on

My dad had his first heart attack in 1988 when I was 14. He had triple bypass in 1990. Spent his 50th bday in the hospital. Said LOTS of prayers. It was very scary, but he came through it. I think he was in the hospital for 2 weeks, the first few days in ICU. And though it was a tough recovery, he was fine. They have made huge strides in heart surgery. My good friends have a daughter who had open heart surgery in January - a few months before she turned 2 - and she was out of there within a few days. Crazy! Granted, little ones heal so quickly but still. I couldn't believe she wasn't even there a week. As was suggested, just bring dinner by on occasion. Try not to hover, but be there if they need anything. The most comforting thing for me was supportive friends and family and prayer. Hopefully all will go well! God bless!

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