Today is a special day for me since I am back on-line after two months doing what I didn’t want to do. I have been recuperating from quadruple heart bypass surgery that I underwent on Aug. 7.
That was a very unexpected event in my life. I had slowed in just about everything I did but didn’t suspect my heart. I thought it was just my age that I had mentioned in this column many times before.
First indication of a problem came a couple of days before all the surgery when I couldn’t go to sleep because of pressure on my chest and both arms. Never having had chest pains, I didn’t think about a heart problem, so I got up and checked on the Internet to see what the symptoms were concerning a woman having a heart attack.
It didn’t seem like my pains were strong enough for a heart attack so I sat in a chair, finally went to sleep and woke up feeling pretty good. It just happened that I had a scheduled appointment with my cardiologist the next day and when his nurse asked me if I was doing okay, I told her about what happened. Next thing I knew, I was having an EKG. People with heart problems will know what that means.
The doctor didn’t like the looks of the results and scheduled a procedure for the next day and decided I needed more than he was able to correct. Then, he called in a heart surgeon – my good friend from a previous surgery – and the results were four bypasses, a life changing event for my life. I was told that it might take a year to be my “old self” only better.
I learned a lot about women and their heart attacks during the two months since my surgery and it seems the most important thing about recovery is walking. My surgeon is insistent about 30 minutes of walking every day. It doesn’t have to be all at once and rest stops are fine. I haven’t reach the 30 minutes yet, but I’m getting close.
So if you see me with my walking shoes, slouchy t-shirt, very little makeup and hair disheveled walking down Main Street or in the almost vacant Sher-Den Mall where other walkers make their way the same as me, come on and join me while I get my exercise done.
It gets easier almost every time my husband or son drag my walker that is equipped with a seat out of the back of my car so I can walk and when I have to do the chore or put it back after I walk. It’s seat comes in pretty handy when I get tired. Little by little I am getting stronger and writing this column is part of the exercise using my brain.
I was using a cane for many months before my surgery and I still am using it when I don’t need the walker. My biggest problem here is keeping up with the cane and not losing it, picking it up when it falls from my chair or leaving it somewhere. Several times I have had to make calls trying to locate the left-behind cane. Getting rid of the walker and cane are my goals in life today and one day soon I will make it happen.
Can you imagine the junk mail you get when you spend time away from or in the hospital. After seven days in the hospital, including ICU when I really didn’t worry about the mail, to a brief four-day stay in rehab, then a month at my son’s and daughter-in-law’s house, the junk mail accumulated at home where my husband was keeping the home air conditioner going, looking after the dogs and coming to visit often. He very carefully saved the Get Well cards that were appreciated and the bills that had to be paid.
As soon as I was able to get in and out of the car, they brought me home for a visit to check the mail and pay a few bills. A week at home has helped me feel more like I’m surviving and helped me catch up on some of the correspondence.
I hope I am back writing these columns. Many have told me they have missed them and they have become a part of my weekly job. Thanks for the inquiries, cards, phone calls, prayers and thoughts. All have really been appreciated and have helped me recover.
Next week this column will be back to the history of Denison and the surrounding area.
Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.