Operation Iron Man: The Recovery (week 2)

Hello Friends!

I can hardly believe that Herb’s surgery was two weeks ago already. I want to give a huge shout-out to all our family and friends who gave gifts of meals, finances, and time. We have been exceedingly blessed by your generosity.

Herb’s recovery is going well and he is getting stronger every day. He is impatient with the process and is getting bored being home. He wants to go back to work! It becomes apparent that he needs this time because simple things still wear him out, like taking a shower or going for a walk.

He has his follow-up appointment with the surgeon on February 15th. Hopefully he will be cleared to go back to work then. I am encouraging him to only go back half-days to start. I’m sure that he will be exhausted those first few days. He will need some time to get his stamina back.

We did have one concerning issue arise this week. Herb was complaining that his right leg (where they harvested the graft vein) was becoming swollen and sore. He had a firm lump between the two incision sites that was quite painful. We decided that he needed to call the surgeon right away to see if he was having a complication to the surgery.

Herb called the surgeon’s office and left a voicemail for the on-call nurse. We waited.

I desperately wanted to stay calm, but my brain was screaming, “IT’S A LUMP! COULD IT BE A BLOOD CLOT?! THIS IS NOT GOOD! AAAAARRRRGH!”

Being a planner, I started running through all the scenarios of who could watch the kids if Herb needed to be rushed to the emergency room. I made a few calls to get things lined up just in case.

An hour passed. I was sure I was going to have a brain aneurysm from the stress. I forced myself to take deep breaths (mostly so I wouldn’t throw-up).

Herb was getting anxious too, so he called again. This time it was less than five minutes before the nurse called back.

His side of the conversation was mostly, “O.K.” and “That’s great.”

(I was sure he hadn’t fully explained the severity of the situation–I should be commended for the incredible personal restraint I exhibited in not ripping the phone from his hands so I could talk to the nurse myself.)

As it turns out, Herb’s dreaded “lump” was fluid build-up in the space where the vein had been. The nurse assured him that this was common. She said everything was fine and that it might take a couple of weeks for the fluid to dissipate.

In the four days since that call, Herb has been using a heating pad to help ease the pain. He has continued with his walking and although still tender, he’s feeling a lot better! So am I!

In other news, we said goodbye to the super-recliner today. It was a fun ride, but Herb really doesn’t need the extra support. He continues to exceed expectations.

Unfortunately, that has lead him to occasionally forget that he just had his chest split open. The other night we were putting the kids to bed and he was leaning over to kiss Izabella goodnight. He instinctively put his hands on her bed in a push-up position. Kiss, kiss, then he went to straighten up. Ugh, he was stuck! Before I could get to him, he pushed up with his arms and POW! The first bolt of pain he’s had since the hospital hit him right in the middle of his chest–right where his sternum is bolted together. I’m so glad he didn’t pass out. It was a huge reminder for him to take things easy.

After that happened, the thought crossed my mind whether he could seriously hurt himself–the restaurant scene from Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life” came to mind. (A man so overeats in a restaurant that he literally splits open like a suitcase…it’s disgustingly hilarious–Google it.)


Dr. Surgeon told us that he used a metal plate system that uses titanium screws to hold the sternum together while it heals. Very sturdy. Sooooo, I thought I’d peruse the internet to see if I could find it…

It’s called SternaLock and looks like something I could have picked up at Home Depot.

It even comes with self-tapping screws. Awesome.

I will spare you the picture I found of it installed in an open chest.

The “X” design makes me want to rename this series to the “X-Man” instead of Iron Man. Ha!

‘Til next time friends!





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s