WHAT HAPPENS AFTER A STERNOTOMY?

Posted by Heart Hugger on Jul 12, 2017 12:09:00 PM

older couple exercising after heart surgery

If you were a character in a book, what would a chapter about your daily life look like? You've read chapters like these about your favorite fictional characters; it is the "average life" portion of the story, the part where everything is normal right before things change and the journey begins. What would your chapter look like? For example, what would you eat for breakfast? Which clothes would you put on? Would you feed a dog, or would you feed a cat, or both? What kind of car would you drive? Where would you go? These are all aspects of your life; but, just like in the stories, your current life becomes your "old life" when a journey begins--a journey like surgery. Managing pain after a sternotomy is one big part of that journey, and it is the part that's going to change your chapter the most.

After Surgery

After any surgery, things are going to change. It is sort of like the part in the book where the hero comes home after a long quest and heals, reflects on what she has learned, and begins to craft a new life. The same is true when healing and managing pain after a sternotomy. You've been through a lot, and you have to rewrite your "old life" chapter to provide for your new needs, goals, and challenges, and you must make recovery a priority. But what does that look like? Often, people have questions about what the healing process actually means, how to manage pain, what will change after surgery--essentially, they want to know how different their "new life" chapter will be from their "old life."

A New Chapter

Writing the "new life" chapter after a sternotomy can be daunting. What activities can you still do, and what should you avoid? How can you manage pain after a sternotomy? Let our experts explain!

  • Pain. The first step in writing a successful recovery and "new life" chapter is managing pain after a sternotomy. Your doctor will probably recommend many options--and a respiratory splint is among the most reliable and efficient. This will help you move easier, breathe better, and recover quicker.
  • Activity. Exercise after surgery is important, but it probably won't look like it did in your "old life" chapter. Generally, you will be able to do general household activities like sweeping or shopping in the 6-8 weeks after your surgery, but lifting, reaching, and stretching should be avoided. Breathing exercises are also crucial to recovery.
  • Work. Returning to work after a sternotomy is a very personal decision. It all depends on how you feel and what you do. Although many patients wait 4-6 weeks before returning to a light workload, the time may be different for each individual--and that is okay. This is your chapter and your journey.

Interested in more tips on recovery? Looking for a way to manage pain after a sternotomy? Contact us today!

Heart Hugger

Written by Heart Hugger

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