A Heart Surgery Primer

Arian Knops

A Heart Surgery Primer

2 mins
December 14, 2021

“Praying for the best results and the Lord to guide the hands of the surgeon.”

Those were the wishes from a man I served in the Navy with back in the 1960s. Don, the friend, went through heart surgery more than fifteen years ago and he is doing fine. Don’s wife died this past summer after more than fifty years of marriage, so we also now have shared the loss of a spouse. I was fortunate that the Hand that Guides the Universe gave me a second chance at love and my wife, Arlene and I have been married for over twenty years, the first marriage lasted twenty-seven years so I am indeed fortunate.

Okay, now to my first story about heart surgery and it will be as clear as mud at times, but it is how I saw it.  This story will be about the aftermath of the procedure.  The pain after surgery wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  To me, it was like being hit by a truck. Something that has happened to me.  It was a low-speed altercation, but I still broke some ribs and there wasn’t much the Doctors could do about them, so I just lived with it.

 For those of you who have never been unlucky enough to be hit by a truck the pain would be similar to the pain of being kicked in the chest or groin by an angry horse would be. I’ve been kicked in the leg by a horse, but it was also a glancing blow, but it still hurt like the dickens for a couple of days. 

So, for me the pain was at least tolerable after heart surgery and since I hate pain meds with a passion, I took them sparingly. The brain fog that enveloped me while coming out from the anesthesia lasted several days and it was difficult to have to think about such mundane tasks as standing up from a chair. I had to learn how to do things that used to be automatic. It sucked. A day or two after surgery I sneezed and that gave whole new meaning to the word pain. The hospital gave me a heart shaped pillow that I was supposed to hold to my chest if I felt a cough or sneeze coming on. I didn’t get to my little buddy the pillow fast enough, but I have now learned to keep him handy. Some commonsense things sometimes elude me. My common sense, as I get older, sometimes takes a holiday. So, my common sense is not all that common on some days.  

We saw the Doctor a couple of Mondays ago and he thinks everything is going along nicely which is nice to hear.   My wife, whom, at times, I’ve considered a combination Mrs. Hitler/Mother Superior/taskmaster has been taking loving care of me and isn’t going to let me slack off during my rehab and I appreciate that.  Again, that is because some days common sense eludes me. I’m glad my wife is there to keep me on the narrow path to recovery.

The tasks I’m not supposed to do are, but not limited to; doing laundry, hanging laundry, vacuuming, wood cutting, drive a tractor, blowing or shoveling snow, painting, not lifting more than ten pounds for a month and a half, or milking cows. Since I do the laundry in our household, I had to teach my wife the nuances of our new washer and she is doing an excellent job at it. I think the doctors don’t want me to do anything stupid. They must know me better than I thought they did.  I’ll just follow their advice, or at least attempt to.

The worst part of this whole experience is that I never realized how heavy I am and how I have to use leverage to do something as simple as getting out of my recliner.  I use the recliner to sleep in since I’ve been able to make myself a nest of sorts because it is just about impossible for me to sleep in a bed.

At seventy-five I’ve received an extension on life and for that I thank the surgeon, the surgical staff, and all the people who kept me in their prayers. In nighttime hours when I can’t sleep, I am reassessing my life and I hope this extension I’ve received will give me the opportunity to do some good for some other unfortunate person who could use some compassion or friendship and support in a dark hour of their life. That is my wish, and that is my prayer.

This article was orginally reported by
Arian Knops

Arian is a short story contributor to the Sentinel & Rural News. Arian has written two full-length thrillers which have received critical and popular acclaim. Arian lives in Bruce, WI, with his charming wife, Arlene.