Recovery From Open Heart Surgery is A Long Road … But Worth It!

My open heart surgery was on August 21, 2015 – some 2½ years ago. Since my last post almost a year ago I’ve battled – and overcome – some unforeseen medical challenges that seemingly came out of nowhere.

In 2016 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Chronic Kidney Disease and it continually worsened. In August 2017 I was diagnosed with Stage F3 Liver Fibrosis (NASH). So in October my PCP put me a very specialized diet in order to reverse the liver disease (it’s reversible at Stage 3; Stage 4 is Cirrhosis, which is irreversible).

The kidney issues stemmed from repeated heart caths with dye, which damaged my kidneys (my cardiologist has forbidden me from having anymore tests with dyes – a word of caution!). The liver issue was exacerbated by excess weight & a sedentary lifestyle due to my cardiac issues. My PCP also diagnosed me with metabolic syndrome. All in all, last year everything came together in one perfect storm and hit me like a ton of bricks.

So, in October my wife and I accepted the challenge and radically changed my diet under strict doctor supervision. I am happy to report that since early November I have lost an additional 32 lbs (over 50 since surgery). My kidney disease has been reversed and is now normal. My Type 2 Diabetes has been reversed and my A1c is in normal range. I have stopped taking 1 of 2 meds for diabetes. All of the inflammation has gone and my legs and arms look like they did when I was in high school 40 years ago. And, most important, my liver enzymes are better and continue to improve, thus successfully reversing the liver fibrosis. My cholesterol levels have also finally come into normal/acceptable ranges.

My EF is 55-60 (from my last echo in January). My cardiac function is excellent, with only mild leakage, which is in an acceptable range. I can’t tell you how much better I feel!

The only issue I’m now facing is … rib dysfunction and thoracic spinal pain, most likely caused by the rib spreader used during OHS. I started physical therapy today for that, hoping to strengthen the tendons and ligaments in my back damaged by the rib spreader. It seems the weight loss caused the damage to be “revealed” (less fat to cover it up!) and thus cause pain no one has been able to diagnose (until now). This, too, shall pass!

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