Posted , 4 users are following.
As we could find so little information on the web about the aftercare for this major operation, we thought it might help other people if we shared the knowledge we have gained over the last few months. It is not written by medical people.
Derek had an abdominal aortic aneurysm operation in September 2006. He had had no real symptoms except dizziness, problems with his vision, lethargy, lack of interest in life in general and most importantly, for the rest of his family, he had lost his sense of humour. Looking back we really should have recognised this as significant as once he had had the operation, it came back. When Derek was taken ill on the Friday, the hospital doctors thought he might have had a stroke or maybe was having a heart attack. It was through an ultra sound scan that they found the aneurysm.
One of the things which really disturbed him was that he was told that he had only a 3% chance of surviving if the aneurysm burst. I think besides the shock of realising just how ill he was, this is the remark which has been wandering around in his head since the operation.
The aneurysm was 10cm wide, with no calcification and starting to leak. It was agreed that he would be operated on immediately. The operation took about a couple of hours, the stent was inserted in to the main aorta to the heart.
Derek was taken in to intensive care where he remained for the next four days. The things which he found most disturbing were the distinct feeling that there were little black spiders all over the room, spinning webs wildly, and that there were other people in the room whom he would address as if they were actually there (he was in a room on his own!). The morphine, I guess.
After a few days he was transferred to the cardiac ward and he was encouraged to get up and move around and use the toilet on his own. One of the symptoms which had been troubling him for some time before the operation, was his inability to see properly and this continued.
He was encouraged to walk in the hospital grounds and even made it to the canteen to have a snack.
After about 10 days the dozens of stitches were removed.
The following day Derek was allowed to leave the hospital. As we had been in Germany for our son’s wedding reception when Derek was taken ill, we actually went back to the hotel in which the reception had been held. This made it extremely difficult for Derek to fully relax and I am pretty sure delayed his progress. Normally after such a major operation I imagine that you have a fair amount of relaxing bed rest and as we had to arrange repatriation, I think that added some further stress. His medication was changed from what he had been taking in England and he each day he injected himself with heparin. This he also did before the flight back to the UK. These injections continued for about a week after we returned home.
He returned to the German hospital just before we flew back to the UK for a further ultrascan to ensure that everything was healing well – which it was.
Once we finally got home about two weeks later, he then started his bed rest and continued to be very tired, sleeping for most of the day, with gentle walks in the garden when he was up to it. Four weeks later he was still sleeping until 4.00 pm – I believe this was caused as much by the traumatic arrangements for getting home from Germany as to the operation itself. A further month and he was just resting in the mornings.
About a week after we got home the severe panic attacks started and the GP rang to reassure him. He also hated being left alone in the house whilst I went shopping. All normal apparently.
I also feel that he would have liked some further reassurance that the wound was healing internally – it is a large scar from his breast bone down to his groin.
About six weeks after our return to the UK, he went to see the cardiologist at the local hospital and they pronounced him fit, after checking the arteries in the back of his knees which, initially, caused them some concern.
They did not perform an ultrasound scan, which I feel, really would have given him more confidence that everything was healing well.
He has been told that it will be 6/12 months before he feels totally well and is now suffering a significant loss of confidence and a mild depression. He is finding it hard to get interest in his usual hobbies. It is these problems that we have been trying very hard to find some help with, but we cannot find anything about recovery after aortic aneurysm surgery – maybe because so many people die unless it is discovered in a hospital, as Derek’s was.
[i:8ff0f84e2a]This message was automatically imported from the original Patient Experience[/i:8ff0f84e2a]
1 like, 4 replies