Sunday, March 20, 2011

On medications

In the hospital, some of the medications are administered intravenously and others by mouth.  The diurectic, which was removing all the excess pounds of fluid, was given intravenously.  Fortunately, they had inserted the intravenous portal before any surgery as my veins are small and - "nurse tech talk here" - they roll when you try to put a needle in them.  I, of course, knew this as I have had blood taken since I was 17 and had appendectomy.  I also knew they were really terrible because once I tried to donate blood - my type is semi-rare being A negative - and after 4 attempts to fill a pint bottle, the Red Cross people told me never to come back again.

So, the medications I was taking meant they had to test my blood sometimes twice a day, potassium loss from the diuretic being a biggie.  This was a trial because the workable veins are hard to find in the beginning and with all that fluid they seemed to disappear.  I still have many bruises in my arms and hands from failed and successful attempts.  The worse part was after 4 days, they need to put in a new intravenous portal to prevent infections and clotting.  There were numerous attempts by the "best" nurses and only 8 hours after the "due" date, one nurse succeeded.  Of course, I was still losing fluid which made it possible though still difficult.

One evening I started to feel like I was about to hiccup - it was my heart doing an atypical rhythm called afib for short.  The heart monitor told the nurses it was happening and they immediately came to administer intravenously something to get me back to normal sinus rhythm.  I am still taking medication for it at home.  The doctor calmed any fears by reporting that 40% of aortic valve replacement patients have this occur, which is why patients have to wear a heart monitor throughout the hospital stay.  Fortunately, I will not have to take this pill forever as it makes me a bit woozy.

At home, I am taking less prescribed medications but, after discussing it with the medication nurse specialist, I added back in some things they were giving me in the hospital and my allergy medicine now that I am home with the cat.  The meds I continued that were not directly prescribed are a stool softener, an acid reducer (Pepcid in particular), and Cepacol throat lozenges.  My stomach throws a lot of acid back up my throat (acid reflux) in reaction to medications so the Pepcid helps it not be so corrosive and the Cepacol soothes my irritated throat.

The biggest medicine topic for me is that since I chose a tissue rather than metal/plastic valve, I do not have to take Coumodin (warfarin).  Clumsy as I am, this is a big plus not to have to be careful about bruising, falling, or worrying about blood draws not clotting.

The only thing I will have to take is an antibiotic before any dental work or cleaning.  I can easily adapt.


David said...

Hi, Maggie -- I had an aortic valve replacement in January, so what you're going through is very familiar.

If it's of any use, my tale is in my blog.

The one piece of advice I'd give you (and anyone else in the same boat) is not to be too quick in cutting back on pain meds -- I earned myself a trip to the ER when I cut back too soon. But that, too, passed; I've been off all my pain meds, even the acetaminophen, for about three weeks.

Happy recovery and rehab!

-- David Singer

Maggie the Messmaker said...

Thanks, David. I appreciate the advice on the pain meds. I'll check out your blog too.