My Heart’s Journey: Ready for rehab to begin

Published 12:36 am Monday, February 29, 2016

This is part of a series of articles about the writer’s recent open-heart surgery and recovery process.

By Ty Cobb

Well, buckaroos, I’m back and you thought I was hanging up the old pen er … computer. Just not a lot to report last week. But I got a few things that you might be interested to hear about.

I had an appointment with my cardiologist at Novant,  one with my family doctor. Glad to reduce my 11 pills a day to nine now. Still a pain to take so many, but I have to trust that the doctors know best. My caregiver is on top of my medicines, and she will surely call out when it is time to consider reducing the number of pills.

I have noted that I seemed to itch a lot, and in some cases I have scratched so much that I am close to causing my skin to bleed. My family doc ordered me some ointment that should do the trick. Seems that one of the pills I am taking is allergic to my delicate skin. I had the severe itches especially on my legs and arms. Looks like we have solved the problem, but you have to be careful with so medicines, as the allergies they cause might upset your personal bag of chemicals!

My cardiologist ran an echocardiogram, and I (and the cardiologist) was pleased that it showed the heart and its new cow (Elise) valve is working well. My cardiologist took one of my pills off the list, and my family doc had cut one more, so that is how I got down to nine a day. (Of those nine, four are the same as pills I was taking before surgery.) My cardiologist set me up to start a rehabilitation program at Rowan Novant. I have been “read into” the routine and have started working it. I will do this for an hour three days a week and I also plan to work on off days on my own at the YMCA.

I started the program this week, and I can see that the rehab program will be beneficial for building my body back to “normal” from the surgery and hopefully as good as I was “normal” 18 months ago. The staff closely monitors the out-patients when we do our routines each week. In my opinion, I did well with my entrance 6-minute walking evaluation and each of three other exercises. While insurance will allow 36 sessions, I am hoping to be able to complete all I need to do in about five weeks (15 sessions).

My family doctor has been monitoring my blood “chemistry” to check for any problems with my kidney functions. Seems that my kidneys are improving, which is a good sign, and with hope, they will be completely “up and ready” shortly.

I mentioned to my family doctor and my cardiologist that since the surgery I get anxious when I think about my heart being worked on by removing my aortic valve and implanting a cow (Elsie) valve in my heart. I find myself thinking that my heart is going to quit working or just fall apart. My cardiologist assured me that what he hears and what he sees via his echocardiograms indicate that everything is running well. Thank the Lord! Also, this same feeling is a common attribute of other heart surgery patients.

As I mentioned in an earlier piece, I had an extreme problem with hallucinations and nightmares while I was “out” for three and an half days after my surgery. I have been dreaming more than I did before surgery. During the last three days at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte (when I had awakened), I did dream at night but it was not nearly as scary as those when I was “out.” I spoke to my family doctor and my cardiologist about dreaming, and both said that it is normal to be dreaming more after having been placed asleep. My amount of dreaming has decreased, and I have not had a “scary” dream in a couple of weeks.


Ty Cobb lives in Rowan County.