The first few weeks after I got home from the hospital after having open heart surgery were actually pleasant. The post-surgery euphoria, which so many of us enjoy after a stressful stay in the hospital, was helping me along. I was relieved to have the surgery behind me.
I was busy, too, busy with just getting well. There was, to start with, the business with the medications. There were plenty of them! They required careful attention and had to be taken on time. Three times a day we sat down at the kitchen table and lined up the pills, checked off the pills, and then I took the pills. I was on many medications, including beta blockers, heart rhythm meds, coumadin, diuretics, and pain medication as needed. The worst of all of them was the potassium. Anyone who has taken potassium knows they are large, they are difficult to swallow, and if you break them they are almost worse as you can taste them and they scratch your throat on the way down.
Between all the pills, there was a pleasant routine that developed. At first, I had trouble getting out of bed on my own so I required help, but later, I could get up, wash, brush my teeth and hair and come out to the kitchen to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee and a light breakfast. Later, I watched my "morning shows" and after lunch, I would rest and catch a movie or a soap opera.
I would read, walk around the patio and down the street a bit, and enjoy my dogs or take a phone call or two (I still did not have a lot of strength due to the incision in my right chest wall, so I sounded a bit squeaky.) Flowers and cards would arrive, which made me feel cared for and very special.
Dinner was in front of the TV and later, I would get on the laptop in my bedroom with my dogs around. This is when I began to develop the bad habit of staying up quite late and treating myself to graham crackers and apple juice, or even unhealthier snacks, which did nothing to keep my waistline slim.
This routine was comforting but was doing little to speed my return to the "real world," and I had a business to run. I began walking more frequently and for longer periods, especially when the physical therapist came. Because of my robotic surgery,I was able to drive within two weeks of returning home. I actually went to the grocery store and drug store with a friend and no one could believe I had just had open heart surgery.
My post-surgical depression began to set in about a month after I was home. It was during that period where you can't really lie around on the couch or bed anymore and convince yourself you're still too weak to do anything (called "babying yourself" and everyone needs to do some of that) and the realization that you're not well enough to jump back into your life with both feet. You're sort of caught in the middle, you don't seem to be making much progress, and you might even take a few steps backward. The anesthesia is still in your system and so are all the medications.