Tips for post-bypass surgery

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Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2014
Total Posts : 90
   Posted 4/8/2015 9:22 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi all,

My father-in-law is going to have double, possibly triple, coronary bypass surgery next week (CABG). I was hoping that you could provide some tips or advice for making him more comfortable during his recovery, both while he's in the hospital and after. (I did a search but couldn't find anything.) Any advice on things to buy or rent for the hospital or after?


Elite Member

Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 20279
   Posted 4/8/2015 12:57 PM (GMT -6)   
hi melanie. welcome. i had double by-pass (cabg) just over a year ago. everyone is different. in hospital i should have been more raised when trying to sleep. flat is hard, esp at home. getting the fluid up is important. he will have to go through this. it hurts, but it is better to get it out. he will use the towels for huffing. do this at home. rest. must rest. look for any signs of mood changes, infection in scars, esp chest scar. and any infection. TED stockings are important. they are a bugger to put on. must be done by someone other than him. stop clots. do foot paddles regular, and huffing regular too. the hospital will teach a whole raft of exercises, in there and out. do them.

do not lift anything whilst chest is knitting. keep stress down, fatigue is very common. my doc did not prescribe pain relief bar panadol on discharge-get something from the hospital. sternal pain is savage. esp with movement and getting up from bed and seated position. vivid dreams are common for a little bit. cognition can be affected. they say full recovery around 3 months, not true. palpitations can occur. sweating-if persistent see doc. some air flow helped me with comfort. gentle fan. i did a six week cardiac rehab program. it is a must. make sure he eats. even if he does not want to. when ready, build up stamina and get him moving. healing thoughts.

ps depending on other factors and or age a frame may help. i use a walking stick but for other things. a frame with wheels and brakes and the seat that has a basket in it is useful at the start. but make it temporary. a walking stick is useful, it helps maintain some independance. a shower chair is important. it really helps. slippers. trust me, he can't bend for awhile, and don't allow it in the early stages. easy clothes, larger shirts, breaths better for wound management and track suit pants. plenty of water. may need a jug for urinating. dependant on age. pushing yourself to make it is actually good for your overall efficacy. follow docs advice, do exercises regular, book in for cardiac rehab and recover.

Post Edited (THE HAPPY TURTLE) : 4/8/2015 12:08:30 PM (GMT-6)

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2014
Total Posts : 16
   Posted 4/8/2015 3:40 PM (GMT -6)   
hi melaine, i had ohs surgery 7 yrs ago for valve replacement, the main thing for me is just to take it easy and remember everybody recovers at a different rate, do everything the hospital and doctors tell him to, in my case i was up and about 2 days later and suffered hardly any pain,to me it felt like a bad case of the flu, it took me about 3 month to get fully back to normal although that can vary, he will need plenty of rest and will catnap often, am sure he will do just fine

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2014
Total Posts : 90
   Posted 4/9/2015 1:06 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the responses Happy Turtle and Neil. I'm glad you both have recovered so nicely.

I've been poking around online and I've read about these items that may provide more comfort:

--rent a recliner (for sleeping and for resting, preferably electric);
--raised toilet seat (his is too low right now);
--comfortable, loose clothing, especially for right after surgery when he may be bloated;
--non-slip slippers;
--shoes that pull on rather than lace;
--shower chair;
--jug for urinating;
--something for pain
--extra towels for huffing (have no idea what this means!)

Can you think of anything else?

Thanks very much

Elite Member

Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 20279
   Posted 4/9/2015 3:51 AM (GMT -6)   
huffing. to get rid of the fluid/ mucus. like coughing up a fur ball. the container for urine is important as it is common to be put on a fluid tablet. it depends on each individual case though.

Melaine, DON'T FORGET about YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! my sis did the same for me. but i was in hospital for 32 days. she never missed a beat, pardon the pun, but it took a toll. please have some others help you. when is the op? take care. keep us informed if that is cool.

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2014
Total Posts : 16
   Posted 4/9/2015 12:29 PM (GMT -6)   
hi melanie, i was out after 6 days, so expect around the same, shower chair and jug? the physo told me its good to get moving about soon after op and going to the toilet was fine for me, also got a shower the 3 or 4 day without any need of chair, just tell him to be slow and carefull,recliner is good but getting back into a normal routine is also beneficial, remember though everybody recovers at a different rate,
had heart valve surgery 2008. replaced with a nice porky pig one

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2015
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/25/2015 11:42 AM (GMT -6)   
Make certain that the bed is very firm. You might need
to stiffen it with a sheet of plywood under the mattress.
Learn all the body mechanics required of the patient for
yourself, and practice them. Use them all the time, as you
prepare to watch over the patient, in the coming days.

You need to know what they need to know!

There was once an awareness campaign that advocated
pretending that there was a raw egg still in the shell,
between your foot and the gas pedal of your car. You
were supposed to drive in such a way as not to break
the egg.

Similarly, try to imagine a giant, brittle taco shell is on
top of the mattress of the bed, but under you as you lay
on the bed. You want to be able to get in and out of the
bed without breaking the taco shell; especially, the elbows
are going to punch a hole in the taco shell.

Obviously you can't avoid breaking the shell, so imagine
whatever comes to mind that would probably not break
into very many pieces, but would still be thin and brittle
enough to serve as constant reminder not to apply a lot
of muscle power to any small area of the bed, when moving
in and out of the bed.

Most importantly is if the bed (or any soft or low furniture)
is to be used by the post-operative patient, that they be
told a few times about any compromises in support --
absolutely no surprises are tolerable, as the patient is
too inexperienced with median sternotomy recovery to
easily predict if a given room furnishing will be supportive

Make sure you are with them the first time they try to
use anything that will support their body weight.

The lifting power of the knees is apt to be severely
limited -- there may be chairs too low for them to
escape from, when it is time to stand up.

Getting up from the floor, for any reason, will be almost
(or fully) impossible. Once the patient gets bored with
compliance, expect them to try to do things they probably
cannot do, and strand themselves. Asking for help is
difficult, and you can expect they'll do a lot on their own,
rather than ask for the help they need -- and will often
wave you away when you offer help.

A physical therapist, visiting in the home, is the right way
to handle many of these kinds of ambulatory issues. The
PT will teach the new patient the safest way to get in and
out of the bed, the shower, and so forth.

A hospital bed is needed for greatest patient safety. The
fact that such a bed can support the patient in a half
sitting posture is what makes it so valuable. The fact that,
once the patient is safely in the bed, it can be lowered
under the shoulders (to lay more flat) contributes to
patient comfort, when they want to sleep. At least, some
patients will want to lay more flat.

Going from flat on a bed, to standing next to the bed, takes
a few (several?) distinct postures (body positionings) to
achieve, safely. Same is true of getting into the bed. The
patient will have some experience, doing for themself, in
hospital. But the hospital normally has the correct kinds
of room furnishings. This isn't ordinarily the case, in the home.

Learn all 'sternal precautions' and pretend they apply to you.
Try to solve these problems, ahead of need. The point is to
find the worst hazards still in the home, identify them, and
have a (simple, but) written plan for patient safety, around

Doors that aren't easily opened, especially, are a known
hazard to the healing sternum. The patient must develop a
habit to (at a minimum) not become trapped behind a door
too difficult to open. Public restrooms and stairwell doors
are often too strongly sprung (by door closers).

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2003
Total Posts : 106
   Posted 6/25/2015 1:08 PM (GMT -6)   
I will add my 2 cents worth in now.The one thing that is a must is a big soft pillow to hold pressure against his chest when he coughs.It can save on a lot of pain.I wish someone had told me that sooner.It's been 5 years since CABGX4 and the best thing I had was my wife and family there helping.
I'm not scared of dying, I just don't want to
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