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24 Mar 2019
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TOPIC: Nolij's journey

Nolij's journey 11 months 3 weeks ago #7478

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I'm a 31 year old male with a Haller Index of 9.
Nuss surgery is scheduled for July 27th.

I've had a dent in my chest my entire life. It made me self conscious during swimming lessons as a kid but it grew much more severe when I hit my growth spurt as a teenager. I would wear tight undershirts to try to create enough tension beneath my clothes to prevent the wind from blowing my shirt against my chest and revealing my pectus.

I was going to have a modified Ravitch procedure when I was 16 but it was cancelled the day before when the imaging revealed that my aortic root was slightly enlarged. The doctors decided not to crack me open then if they were going to have to open me up again a few years later to fix my heart. I had yearly scans to make sure my aorta didn't continue to expand and it has only expanded a little. At the current rate, I may need heart surgery in my late 40s. My cardiologist does say that having my pectus repaired should lower my heart rate and hopefully make my aorta last longer.

My pectus has always made my wife nervous about my health. She can see my heart beating against my ribs and its uncomfortable for me to have her rest her head on the left side of my chest when cuddling. Life got busy in my 20s with school, I was off my parent's insurance, and I didn't have the money to pay for and recover from pectus repair so I never followed up on having surgery. Now that we can afford a pectus repair, I took a bunch of tests earlier this year to prove if my pectus is cosmetic or functional. Now I know I have little more than 50% expected lung capacity, my heart is squished to the side, and my heart beats faster because it doesn't have the room to completely expand. I also found out I'm allergic to cobalt so we're using titanium bars instead of stainless steel (definitely take a metal allergy test before surgery).

I'm a little nervous for the surgery but I've gotten my affairs in order (life insurance, wrote down logins and passwords for my wife, that sort of thing). I've had surgery before to remove a benign tumor from my foot and I woke up during the surgery. I absolutely don't want to wake up while being skewered with pectus bars but the anesthesiologist is aware. I'm mostly nervous about having things in my body when I wake up (catheter, epidural, drainage tube, bars). I hear it hurts more the older and more severe your pectus is so I'm hoping it isn't miserable.

I've really appreciated being able to read the stories of others who have been through pectus repair so I will absolutely update this post to share my own story.

Nolij's journey 11 months 3 weeks ago #7481

Stay calm. Everything will be fine.

Nolij's journey 11 months 3 weeks ago #7482

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Thanks Campos. Things will go well, I just have to keep reminding myself that :)

I almost had to call it off last night though. I was lounging on the couch watching TV while using my dent as a cup holder when I realized I'd no longer have that feature. How am I going to survive without my built in cup holder?! Guess I'll have to figure out how to use coasters in the living room like a normal person.

Nolij's journey 11 months 2 weeks ago #7484

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Quick update.
Surgery with Dr David Griffin in Salt Lake City went very well. I'm surprisingly not jn nearly as much pain as I thought I'd be. I'm very sore and stiff but it isn't sharp pain. They gave me an IV with a button for the pain so I didn't have to have an epidural or catheter. Haven't hit the button since 3am after the surgery and hope it stays that way (I'm getting oral pills). I WAS in a lot of pain for about the first hour after waking up from surgery. I do have a drainage tube in but it should be removed this afternoon when they move me out of the ICU.

So far so good and its only been almost 24 hours since surgery started.

Nolij's journey 11 months 2 weeks ago #7485

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I can't really believe how well my surgery seems to have gone. I was terrified of the pain but so far there was been very little. I'm on oral pills only. The drainage tube was removed this afternoon and was probably the most unpleasant part so far. Dr Griffin used two bars and says I'm on track to be released tomorrow afteenoon if things continue to look good tomorrow.

I'm hoping I continue to only be sore instead of having sharp pains. My chest isnt perfectly flat and I still have rib flares but it looks much more normal.

Nolij's journey 11 months 2 weeks ago #7487

Great news!!! Good luck!!! You're on the right track !!!

Nolij's journey 11 months 2 weeks ago #7489

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Surgery was Friday afternoon. Its Sunday morning right now.

The second night after surgery was rougher. Some of the numbness was wearing off and I wasn't as sleepy so I had more time to think about the pain in my chest. But I managed to fall asleep after midnight.

Clutching a pillow to my chest when moving has helped. Makes it feel like I'm holding my guts together a little better.

Still in the hospital but am hopeful I'll be released today.

Nolij's journey 11 months 1 week ago #7512

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Its now day 8 post surgery. Still sleeping in the recliner but getting a little more mobile and a little less painful every day. I was able to mostly shower by myself this morning. Needed my wife to wash my back and help dry off my lower legs but was able to shampoo my hair today. The doctor had sent me home with Gabapentin as the primary pain reliever which I still take as much as I can. I got a bottle of hydrocodone to use as needed and I'm down to 1 or 2 a day now. Otherwise I'm still taking Ibuprofen to keep the swelling and pain down.

Nolij's journey 11 months 1 week ago #7514

Usually people over 20 have a slightly slower recovery. In a few days you will be much better.
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Nolij's journey 11 months 1 week ago #7547

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11th night post surgery.

The soreness hasn't really changed since my day 8 update but I'm getting more mobile. It still feels like I have a band across my chest but that part doesn't really hurt. My left side where the bars are attached i is constantly sore/uncomfortable though. I've tried laying down in bed but my left side starts hurting when I lay flat so I've had to get up after a minute or two. I've been able to walk in the backyard and got 1800 steps in today. It's not much but better than the 800 I did yesterday. Gonna try to increase my step count every day.

The numbness on the front of my chest is going away. I used to be able to touch the skin and only feel contact via my hand. I can better feel/trace my ribs now and feel that they're still a little crooked/asymmetrical but it at least looks like my chest is normal. Normal except my rib flares are still very pronounced but I'll work on that eventuality.

Soreness is worst when I wake up in the morning so I usually take a hydrocodone at 6am. At least its the only time I'm taking a narcotic. My arms don't rest at my side which is kinda funny. They hang a couple inches from my side as if I was a body builder with skinny arms. I can feel the bars sticking out past my ribs on either side. The incisions are looking a lot better. Still bruised and gnarly looking but the skin is starting to seal up.

Most of my day is spent in a recliner watching TV and playing video games. I haven't tried carrying anything over my head yet but have been able to load/unload the dishwasher.

I'll keep the updates coming and will post before/after pictures when I'm feeling brave enough.
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