Heart Surgery/Stroke


Well it’s been a hot minute since I updated my blog, and I have an actual good reason for it this time – this past November I had scheduled open heart surgery, with complications of a stroke. During COVID. If you want an example of medical trauma, look no further than here!

If you remember in previous posts, I was born with a congenital heart defect, and the fun part about them is a certain percentage (varies by defect) may one day require open heart surgery to either repair or replace certain structures in the heart. I was one of those people, and I got an ascending aortic aneurysm repair done in November of 2020.

An inherent risk of the surgery is stroke, and I was one of the unlucky ones who had one. It wasn’t obvious at first, but after 3 days in a medically induced coma (I struggled to wake after surgery), it was clear that something wasn’t right. I was having issues with walking, talking, memory and fine motor skills (that was evident at first. After some testing, I was diagnosed with a stroke, and my hopes of getting home to G by the weekend were dashed.

But you’re so young. Stroke doesn’t discriminate by age, and quite a lot of things in life but you at risk for one. Which is a scary thought because a stroke can kill or disable you in an instant.

What happened next? After I had received the cardiac care from the heart institute, I was transferred to a rehab hospital where I spent the next few weeks working with physiotherapy, occupational therapy, stroke doctors and nurses while I was assessed and worked on my newly acquired disabilities. All while not being allowed visitors. I spent the weeks leading up to Christmas working on my ability to be safe at home, I practiced walking unassisted and without a walker, getting dressed, brushing my teeth and hair, going to the bathroom without help, feeding myself and showering mostly by myself. I by no means went home able-bodied, but functioning enough that my parents and Jared could care for me as well as G.

Did you continue rehab? You betcha I did! I spent March-July going to Occupational Therapy as often as I was able to go working on my right hand and cognitive deficits. I scrubs dishes in the kitchen, used small tools, typed, did VR tasks and built k’nex airplanes, among many other things during my time there.

Was the surgery worth it? I’ve been asked this a few times and I can say a resounding YES! My heart needed repaired and my latest round of testing shows my heart functioning like a heart healthy person, and I have more energy and endurance than I have in years. My stroke was a minor setback, good heart test results was the goal, and I’ve achieved that. Once I am able to challenge for my driver’s license to be reinstated, I’ll be back to normal.

I’ll have other posts about my journey, but do YOU have any questions about my heart surgery/stroke experience? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

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