Update - August 30, 2011
Today was 20th day since surgery and my 14th day out of the hospital at home. I feel great and am feeling better and better with each new day.
I've continued keeping a log of all my daily vital signs, weight, urine output, blood sugar readings, insulin taken, miles walked and other exercise, extent of remaining symptoms, changes in medications and notes about medical appointments. I still think that doing this helps you manage your case. I am amazed at how quickly I forget or get fuzzy about what happens along the way if I don't write it down.
My energy level and general interest in the facets of my life have returned to normal, so much so that I'm having trouble sleeping for a full night because there is so much I want to do.
Breathing gets easier and less painful each day. I took my last pain pill 10 days ago and have switched to ibuprofen to take the edge off and to chip away at any inflammation that might still be lurking. I still have some pleural rub happening when I breathe deeply. I still do breathing exercises on my spirometer.
With improved breathing and lessening pressure on my chest, I'm no longer sleeping in my recliner and can be almost completely horizontal in bed. I'm pretty wide awake at 4 or 5 AM in the morning after going to bed around 10 the previous night.
I've been walking or marching in place as much as I can stand and can walk about a mile and a half at one time. The walking is extremely important for all kinds of reasons besides exercising your heart and lungs. As a result of being so sedentary in the months before surgery, I lost a lot of strength in my legs and my balance was compromised as well. I can walk at a pretty good clip now and haven't had to use a cane for the last week or so. The more confident I feel on my feet, the more I want to walk and be active. I have to work hard to keep from taking on physical activity that I shouldn't be doing like lifting, pushing, pulling and over reaching.
When I left the hospital, I still had a severely distended ascites belly. Now that my heart is operating without overworking, it's no longer pumping new excess fluids into my body systems. The Lasix is doing its job and slowly bleeding off the existing pockets of fluid. I've lost 11 pounds since coming home and am down to 217 lbs as compared with 261 lbs at the moment of maximum bloat last January. That last 11 lbs represents about 5 quarts of fluid. Can you imagine a gallon jug of wine plus another quart in your abdomen? I'm able to keep my pants up again and wore Levi's for the first time in many months today... now that's progress I can believe in.
We're able to stick to our food plan and I'm getting to do some cooking again which is one of the joys of my life.
So there you have it. I've probably rambled to excess but I hope that this saga will be useful to those who are facing their own battles with pericarditis.
Will post updates as I move forward in this journey. God bless you all.