Heart surgery recovery is not a journey the patient takes alone. Instead, it's one they share with their spouse every step of the way. If your husband is having heart surgery, it makes sense to want all the focus to be on him--but remember that you're having this experience, too. Here's what you can do to help make heart surgery recovery a little easier.
The First Step in Heart Surgery Recovery: Know What to Expect
When preparing for heart surgery, your job as a spouse is to know what to expect. You and your husband are a team, but remember that your doctors, nurses, and other healthcare specialists are part of that team as well--so make sure to pay attention to their input.
Here are a few things you can do before heart surgery to help you and your husband prepare:
#1: Ask questions.
You're probably not a heart surgeon, so you're likely to have a question or two (or 100). Don't be afraid to have open conversations with your husband's doctor. If you can't think of any questions right away, it's also okay to call back later once you've had some time to think.
Make a list of questions like these:
- What is this surgery called?
- How often do you perform these surgeries?
- Why is this surgery necessary?
- What will the procedure look like?
- How long will heart surgery recovery take?
#2: Take notes.
Every time you talk to a doctor or nurse, bring a notepad to write important information--even if you're great at remembering details as soon as you hear them. Having one place for all your notes will help you and your husband stay on the same page and know what to expect every step of the way.
#3: Do your research.
Once you have your initial questions answered, you can do a little research of your own. The internet has plenty of stories from people who have experienced heart surgery recovery, either directly or as a spouse.
The Heart Surgery Recovery Journey
When it's time to face surgery, most patients and their spouses find that two things help you get through the day: hope and humor. If you stay positive and try to find the bright or funny side of the situation as often as possible, you may have an easier time handling the ups and downs of this journey.
In the hospital
After your husband's procedure, heart surgery recovery begins right away. You won't have too much to do during the first few hours or days, though, because patients generally spend time in the ICU immediately following surgery. This is where doctors and nurses will monitor your husband and make sure he's stable.
When it's time to move out of the ICU, you'll probably feel like you have more to do. This is when you can help make your husband more comfortable by bringing favorite clothes, books, and even food (as long as the care team says it's okay).
Home care after heart surgery takes a lot of different forms. Your most important job in the first few days and weeks is to help your husband follow his doctor's orders. This involves things like medication schedules, what to eat and what to avoid, and how much rest he should be getting. You might also have a support harness like Heart Hugger to help your husband use for coughing and breathing exercises.
Don't forget to think about emotional and mental health during heart surgery recovery. That goes for you and your husband. Set achievable goals, stay focused on the positive, and be ready to take things slowly. Heart surgery recovery takes time, so support each other every step of the way.
Caring for Yourself During Your Spouse's Heart Surgery Recovery
Although it's easy to get caught up in your husband's needs during this period of recovery, it's important not to neglect your own needs. For example, if you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, pay attention to those feelings; it might mean you need to reach out to friends or neighbors for a little help with housework so you and your husband can relax.
The most important thing is to keep communicating. Remember, you and your husband are a team; the two of you are on this journey together.
In conclusion, heart surgery recovery can be stressful for spouses, especially when there's so much to do. Luckily, being prepared helps you navigate this journey with a little more confidence.
Want to learn more about heart surgery recovery and support options like Heart Hugger? Contact us today.