Breathing Complications After Open Heart Surgery

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Allen Jenkins
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 6/27/2009 5:52 AM (GMT -6)   
I had open heart surgery March 18, 3 months ago. I was on a respirator for 10 days and contracted pneumonia. The respirator messed up my swallow, so a feeding tube had to be inserted into my stomach before I was released from the hospital. The type of tube they put in me was a 4 week tube that had to be surgically removed.

During this time, my stamina, breathing everything was returning close to normal before the heart attack. Then they removed the feeding tube. This was 4 weeks ago. My breathing has gotten so bad, I am similar to what you describe. Today I noticed that I also, couldn't even sniff. I had already noticed that I was having problems sneezing, blowing my nose, or just my nose running.

I have been in ER twice and had a hospital stay of 5 days. One doctor saying it was upper respiratory, the other saying it was lower respiratory. I will have to tell them about the sniffing....

Anyone have any suggestions, or has this happened to anyone else??

cello
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 54
   Posted 6/27/2009 8:19 AM (GMT -6)   
It's difficult to suggest anything, because every patient is different, you had not said your age, the kind of open heart surgery you underwent, when you had the heart attack or any other medical problems affecting you prior to developing breathing problems. Having been in the respirator for 10 days after open heart surgery seems to be a very long time, most cases stay in the ICU for one or two days after open heart surgery, unless there are complications. Your doctor is the one that is in better position to explain what happens to you and what you can do about it.
 


Allen Jenkins
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 6/27/2009 10:13 AM (GMT -6)   
I am 51. I was told that when they tried to revive me after surgery, I was struggling for some reason, so they kept me sedated. 3 days later, I developed pneumonia, which they did some sort of surgery there, I have pictures of the broncial tubes or areas and the pneumonia. 5 Days I was on total life support, why I was never told. Then at the end of the 10 days the respirator was removed. I also broke while being removed and was taken out in two pieces.

As I said above, I was almost at 100 percent myself again when they removed the feeding tube. This is when all my breathing problems have happened. I cough up all this congestion constantly until my throat is sore. Xrays just show mild congestion in my lungs... I am just so tired of being sick. And without insurance, you cant just go to any doctor you want.

cello
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 54
   Posted 6/27/2009 3:01 PM (GMT -6)   
Was the feeding tube in your esophagous? it seems that your poor throat has been subjected to a lot of traumatism and irritation and there must be some swelling still there. If there is no more neumonia or infection, the irritation in your throat will slowly go sway. It must be really frustrating to go for surgery and after three months still not being able to feel your improvement. It seems to me that the worst might be over by now, but you really had a close call immediately following surgery from unexpected complications. The difficulty for sniffing or sneezing might be releated to some temporary damage of the nerves in your throat from all the manipulation that you received there while in total life support. Hang on there, you might be for a lenghty convalescence but you don't sound hopeless by any means.
 


Allen Jenkins
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 6/27/2009 3:59 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks Cello, you make it sound really encouraging. It just seems like it has gotten worse rather than improving. Of course all the coughing and sore throats I am getting from it are making me impatient. The latest thing that doctors have done is give me steroids that have shot my blood sugar up to 500; another is pills for anxiety. It is at times a suffocating feeling. I have to stop myself from experiencing a panic attack.

I thought that after 4 or 5 weeks however, that any swelling would be gone. Maybe I am wrong. I wonder too if I should be in the hospital on an antibiotic drip. I hope you are right about the sniffing and sneezing and temporary damage to nerves. I would just like to get my life back to as close to normal as it was, and the breathing is scary...

cello
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 54
   Posted 6/27/2009 8:37 PM (GMT -6)   
By the way, what kind of surgery did you have? a bypass?
Steroid are prescribed to take away the swelling, you don't need more antibiotics. It seems that this medical experience has taking a big toll on you. You're anxious, angry and probably a bit depressed, I don't blame you, but you have to bounce back, physically and emotionally. Your mental attitude is most important, because your body listen to your mind, if you act pesimistic your healing power will go down. Don't you have family and friends to give you support?
 


Allen Jenkins
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 6/28/2009 4:45 PM (GMT -6)   
I had a triple bypass on March 18. Pneumonia March 21. The respirator was removed on March 27.

A feeding tube was surgically implanted into my stomach March 30.

It was removed around the second week of May. Before it was removed, I was feeling fantastic. My swallow was fine and I was able to eat and drink normally again. My breathing was almost at 100 percent.

Now after the removal of the feeding tube, my breathing has slowly gone bad and my swallow is messed up again, for which I am doing electric shock therapy at the hospital rehab center, instead of having another feeding tube inserted. It has gotten till I struggle to get air into my lungs, even though my oxygen levels are 98 to 100 when they check it in ER or the hospital.....

cello
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 54
   Posted 6/29/2009 7:22 AM (GMT -6)   
It seems strange that your symptoms got worse after they removed the feeding tube, because I can't see any logical connection. The fact that they have not reimplanted the feeding tube indicates that it has nothing to do with your symptoms. If you oxigen level is 98 to 100%, that also indicates that you have no evidence of a real breathing problem. If you were having no breathing symptoms prior to the removal of the feeding tube, it indicates that you had no irritation or nerve damage in the throat from the respirator anymore. What probably happens now, is that without the feeding tube you have to make an effort to swallow by yourself and this might be causing the discomfort, because your swallowing isn't back to normal yet. If this is the case, you have a good chance of recovering, it'll be only a matter of time. I think you have to be more patient and get some treatment for your apprehension and anxiety.
 


Allen Jenkins
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 6/29/2009 11:27 AM (GMT -6)   
I hope you are right and it takes time and does heal on its own.

I don't know if I mentioned this also.... I am in therapy, they are giving me electrical stimulation on the neck. My swallow was messed up again after the surgery and I didnt know it for a couple of weeks. I can still aspirate or so I have been told. The xrays only show slight congestion. On a daily basis, I am coughing up approximately a half of a coke can of clear and milky mucus, which leaves my throat extremely sore, and in a lot of times my voice is cracking like I am 13 years old or sometimes it is like a whisper.

I now have an appointment tomorrow where all my original surgeries took place. They have arranged for me to see a pulmonary doctor. I am hopeful that he can find out exactly what is wrong.

I have read other posts of people who experienced a "mucus plug" whatever that is. I just know that this suffocating feeling I have at times scares the living daylights out of me. It just seems like I am getting worse than better. Thanks Cello, it is nice to have someone to converse with.

PS... One of my sisters gave me some 2.5 Xanax to take for the anxiety and it has helped keep me calmer.

cello
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 54
   Posted 6/29/2009 6:46 PM (GMT -6)   
I don't blame you for being anxious and fearful, I would be too if I were in your shoes. The presence of large amount of mucus in the respiratory tract indicates inflamation and irritation, which can be caused by a number of conditions. I assume that in your case it's probable a sequela from the trauma caused by having the respirator for so many days and from continuous coughing. Xanax is a very good medication for anxiety, however you have to be careful because all tranquilizers slow down the ability to breath and you already have problems in this department. You better check with your doctor about what medicine will be safer for you nerves. Good luck with the consultation with the pulmonologist.
 


Allen Jenkins
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 7/2/2009 7:05 PM (GMT -6)   
Well, after another 4 day bout in the hospital.... I have finally gotten a little more from a doctor, (5 minutes worth)... He took a scope down my nasal passages.... did a clean xray and clean ct scan that showed nothing.

The doctor did suggest that my Vocal Chords were open and I might have to have a trachia done while everything heals. After doing some more research, all of this sounds about right that possibly might be vocal chord paralysis. I am hoping not completely. I have been looking up all the treatment exercises I can do on my own.

The reason I am doing this, is because the doctor can't see me until Monday when he returns to his office... He is the only Ear Nose Throat doctor at this hospital in Hazard, KY and he is the Lt. Governor of the state as well, and is only in the office at the hospital or clinic on Mondays. You would think that there would be someone in this position full time. Although, EVERYONE talks about what a great doctor he is and just the few minutes I was with him, he did know his stuff or I thought so.... But, I am going to contact him and drive the 80 miles back to Hazard Monday, July 6th and see him. I will let you know what we discuss...

Hopefully, the exercises I have found will help with my breathing as well too and maybe even correct a lot of the problems I am having. Should you find anything Cello, please let me know.

cello
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 54
   Posted 7/3/2009 6:33 AM (GMT -6)   
Well Allen, it seems that things have began to make sense now after your recent examination, your current problem was caused by having been on the respirator for so many days. Temporary damage to the vocal cords and to the nerves in the larynx are frequent complications. The good news is that your problem does not seem to be permanent and that with time and rehabilitation things will fall in place again. A friend of mine under the same circumstances could not swallow or speak for many weeks after he was removed from the respirator. You will have to arm yourself with a lot of patience because you're for a long haul.

 


Watching & Waiting
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 8/29/2009 12:18 AM (GMT -6)   
I have a question about being on a respirator. Are you unconscious/sedated the entire time? I am very scared to go through the open heart procedure. I am suffering from some anxiety generally because of the stress of finding out I have a time bomb in my chest. When you wake up after open heart, are you always on a respirator or does it depend on how you are doing?
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