nurse caring for an elderly woman

Caring for Someone After an Open-heart Surgery

It was just a matter of time. The weight is back on. The work hours get longer and longer. There wasn’t time for exercise nor time to eat healthy foods. The client’s millions of dollars in investment are more important. Deciding to sell or buy is more critical.

Or so you thought, until that fateful day you got wheeled into an OR, at a hospital in Heber. It was a good thing that the hospital’s cardiology and surgery departments are top-notch. They had to perform a coronary artery bypass graft or CABG surgery immediately.

You’re into your eighth month of recovery from the surgery. The discomfort is still there, and the day-to-day struggle is real. You’re thankful for the loved ones who cared for you. You don’t have time to write or blog. But if you could, you would want to share your story about your recovery process. How does one care for someone after a CABG operation?

The Cardiothoracic World in Brief

In 2017, there were nearly 377,800 cardiovascular surgeries performed in North America. The 2021 forecast is that this will rise to more than 461,000.

With advances and medical science and technology, the mortality rate from open-heart surgery is meager at less than 2%. The number of cardiothoracic surgeons in the USA is just in the thousands. One concern is that by 2035, there might not be enough surgeons to handle all the caseload.

Helping in the Recovery Process

Imagine yourself being cut open right down the middle of your body. Your ribcage sawed, opened, and then clamped so that doctors can access your heart and shut it down for at least three to six hours. When it’s done, the heart is beating again, the ribcage is shut, and chest skin and muscle all sewn up.

child and adult holding a heart

And you will never be the same again. That 8-inch long and thick keloid scar will always be a reminder. Caring for yourself for a long while would be a struggle. But neither is it easy for people caring for you. Here’s what they should know:

  1. Patient first. You went through the ordeal. They didn’t. Whatever discomfort they are feeling or however annoyed they might get because of your unreasonable requests, they should always give you a pass. No question. They should be ready with an enormous supply of patience and understanding.
  2. Supporting basic activities. You still feel pain all the time. Getting up, turning on your side, lying down or sitting on the toilet are all exhausting efforts for you. They should be on standby as much as they can to assist you. They should help in administering your medication.
  3. Unconditional emotional support. The down moments would be hard. They must be able to provide the voice of reason and encouragement. While everything won’t be the same anymore, a year after the operation would certainly feel better compared to a week or two after. They should help you focus on the positive things that lie ahead. They should help you plan your diet or arrange your doctor’s visit.
  4. They need to take care of themselves too. It could be exhausting for them, too. The infinite supply of patience might be threatened. They should find time to recharge and relax and if possible, have a healthy and open conversation not only with you a patient but everyone else involved in your recovery.

The semblance of near-absolute recovery will not come on the 11th or 12th month after the operation. But things will get better. Support from each other—patient and caregiver—will help in the process.

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