Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Heart Support Pillow

Prior to my surgery I read Adam Pick's book, "Patient's Guide to Heart Valve Surgery". One of the things he mentioned was a patient would need to support his/her chest after surgery. When I got out of ICU the nurse made a small pillow made out of folded towel for me to use as support for my chest. I clutched on it whenever I moved, coughed and walked around. I felt like I had to support my heart lest it falls off.

I did the same when I went home. Jay made a small pillow for me also with a folded towel to use as support. Later on I felt it was too hard so he bought a small pillow for me. It didn't feel all that comfortable though so I bought a heart-shaped pillow from IKEA. It had the right softness and was good support whenever I felt like lying on my self. The drawback though it was too huge and having told hold a pillow was tiresome.

My niece, Patricia, a fashion designer (she designed my wedding entourage's gowns) made a new pillow for me. It was the perfect size, thickness and it was soft and firm enough to use as a support pillow for my chest. It also had straps so it lessened the need to support it with my arms. Here's the prototype of the pillow:

Interested to buy a heart support pillow? Inquire here.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The 8-inch Wound

My Mom made sure I didn't have any unsightly scars (especially on my legs). She was pretty strict when I was a child and she didn't allow me to play on the street. It didn't stop me though from going over our gate and playing outside or learning how to use a skateboard. Oh the scoldings I used to get! I guess I've always been the adventurous type.

Now I have this ghastly 8-inch scar across my chest. My doctor said it was supposed to be shorter, but I guess because of the complications they had to make it bigger. And then there are a few other smaller wounds from the second surgery I had to drain the fluid from my pericardium (heart sac) and lungs. Last January after my first discharge I started to cry when Sweetie was dressing me up. He asked me what was wrong and I said, "I'm so ugly now." He immediately reassured me that I wasn't ugly and that my wounds were going to settle and eventually go away.

It's been a month since that day and the main wound has indeed settled. It just looks like I have a red line on my chest. The smaller wounds are all drying up and shrinking. Time does heal all wounds, literally and figuratively. I'm so lucky I have a very loving and understanding husband. I guess I'll just have to suck it in and buy a tankini in case we go swimming this summer haha.

I'm now able to dress myself. It's still quite hard though to remove clothing but I've found a great solution -- shopping for clothes that would be easy to take off! I'm mindful though to keep my wound covered whenever I go out to prevent infection. I now see my scar though as a stamp. A new lease to live longer and provide my family a better quality of life when I'm better. And well I can still show off my thunder thighs since that part of me is still scar-free. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Happy Golden Birthday to my Kuya!

Happy, happy golden birthday to my favorite, one and only, Kuya.

I wanted to post a photo of him carrying me when I was a baby to show that he was already a teenager when I was born. Unfortunately though the scanned photos are in my desktop in Manila.

My Kuya is is your stereotype of what an older brother should be -- protective, affectionate, a mentor, pilyo (naughty), spiritual and annoying (every so often). We were like cat and dog growing up because I'd always play my "bunso card" whenever I got annoyed with him.

It was my Kuya though who got me interested in computers. He enrolled me in logo programming summer class in Don Bosco. I'd stay with him in his office in Dutch Boy and take a short jeepney ride to school. He painstakingly taught me how to use his XT computer (which I later on inherited) and convinced our parents to upgrade my PC before I went to college. Through the years he guided me with my career decisions, taking an MBA and one thing he taught me to do was how to make an awesome resume.

My Kuya got married when I was just 14 years old so through the years I saw him less and less especially when he moved to Jakarta. He made sure we'd spend quality time whenever we were together. He's always been generous and spent for trips so we could come visit him. And he's the one who originally spent for my cardio visits in Singapore.

When I was in ICU after my surgery my Mom said I mumbled, "I want my Kuya." I remember I wanted to see my Dad but realized he's in heaven already and I instead said I wanted to see my brother. Two days later he surprised me by showing up in the hospital. He dropped everything he had planned for that weekend to come see me. Few weeks later he showed up at my apartment and spent the few hours of transit time he had to cook for me his special spaghetti.

I cannot imagine my life without my Kuya. We do still fight every so often, but he's more understanding now knowing I'm not supposed to get stressed (hehehe).

Happy, happy birthday Kuya! I was hoping to be there for your birthday but I'm still stuck in Singapore recuperating. I lent Mom to you though for a few days, but please return her tomorrow. Haha. Love you!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Leap of Faith

As of today I've spent 27 days in the hospital since January 7 when I was admitted for my heart valve surgery. The surgery was necessary and it took me 10 years to finally agree to go through it. I did it for my family because their quality of life was suffering as well.

It has truly been a hard ordeal to go through but whenever I felt down and frustrated I would tell myself that God will not give me a trial I couldn't bear. I'd also remind myself that this is a short term sacrifice so my family can have a better life with me. I've been suffering the last 5 weeks, but my family has been with me every step of the way.

Jay, my Sweetie, is truly heaven sent. I don't think he slept the whole, month of January. He took care of me and monitored every breath I took. Made sure I ate and drank my meds and cheered me on. I cannot imagine going through this without him. He's back in Manila now for work but dropped everything when I said I was readmitted (thanks to all his bosses and colleagues at the embassy).

My Mom is the strongest person I know in the whole wide world. She takes everything in stride and has been my rock. She's 76 now but is acting as my full time private nurse. Hope I'm not being so much a burden.

My son Miguel. I know he's worried sick about me. He's been awesome at taking care of me and has been acting as my late evening nurse (oftentimes I couldn't sleep so I need company). Got lost a couple of times in Singapore, but he's gotten the hang of it.

My Kuya who's gone out of his way to surprise me with visits. Mom said I mumbled that I wanted to see him when I was still in ICU. He's a very busy guy so I'm really thankful that he came and even cooked spaghetti for me. The video greetings his family and my Ate sent was also very helpful and encouraging.

My boss, my colleagues, my friends for all the love, care, visits, helping in making things easier for me and my family, food deliveries, funny video greetings, funny cards, care package. Thank you. My doc said I must've done something really good because I wasn't being treated as another statistic.

Heart surgery is a huge leap of faith and only the brave can do it according to my doctor. You never really know what may happen. My case wasn't an easy one for Dr. Shankar and Dr. Koo but they made sure I got the best medical care.

I'm just probably 70% through with this ordeal. I still need to heal my wounds and regain my strength. I painstakingly typed this post on my tablet hoping it would help others who are going through the same thing go through it with deep faith and love.

Thank you Lord.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Brand New Heart

It's been almost 4 weeks since I underwent mitral valve repair. I would've been able to blog earlier but things got delayed because of complications. I was just supposed to be in the hospital for 5 days - 2.5 hours in surgery, 2 days in ICU and 3 days in ward, but that wasn't the case. Surgery took 4.5 hours due to some complications and my surgeon said that my body reacted differently to the heart-lung machine (or something). I had to be monitored closely for four days. I stayed in the hospital longer than expected because I reacted differently to the medicines and had water in my lungs.

When I woke up the day after the surgery my first thought was, "I survived! I'm alive!" I promptly conked out after that and vaguely remember being given a sponge bath by the nurse. I was really thirsty when I regained consciousness. The nurse gave me some water but said I couldn't have more. Later on she made me the yummiest cup of Milo (I don't really drink Milo but it tasted really good that day). I felt really warm though so I had requested to have an electric fan by my bed. I had a gazillion tubes and plugs sticking out of me.

Sweetie, Miguel and my Mom were there all the time. It was freezing my ICU room though so they just went in and out. On the fourth day I was transferred to a double ward (single rooms were out), but my doctor took pity on me because the other patient was very noisy so he pressured the hospital to have me transferred to a single room the next day.

I was totally helpless during that time. I'm glad though I was assigned to the best nurse station - 9 East. There were a number of Filipino nurses too who knew I was desperate for a bath. The Filipino nurse, Ate Yoly, gave me my first bath and it really made me feel human again. I was in a lot of pain, not because of the surgery, but because of the water that entered my lungs. I had a hard time breathing and it hampered my recovery. As days passed the tubes and plugs sticking out of me were taken out. The vampire though came everyday to collect blood. Good thing she was really nice and made sure my arm didn't bruise.

My heart was in pretty bad shape before surgery. It was already enlarged and I was running the risk of progressing to 30% blood flow, but now my heart is like brand new. It had adjusted well from the repair (I sometimes hear a ticking sound though hehe) and is back to normal size. My cardio said he's very happy about how it had adjusted. I'm lucky too that I don't need blood thinning meds and that means I can eat anything. My recovery has just been held back by the water in my lungs, but after coughing up so much phlegm in the last 2 weeks I hope it's already gone.

I'm still pretty much dependent on many things. It seems only my fingers are working well (for typing). The next few weeks would be focused on regaining my strength and independence. Today's a really good day and I'm just hoping everyday would be a good day so I can go back to work.

Thank you so much to everyone for your prayers and support.