Each person's recovery from coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is a little different. Your road to recovery has many steps, including time in the hospital, time at home, and participation in a rehabilitation program.
You will hear a common theme during your recovery: Everyone heals at a different pace. Recovery from CABG surgery is a long process. And your experience may be a little different than the typical course discussed below.
I had no inkling I had heart disease until December 2005, when I had two minor episodes of mild angina (pain in the chest area). My primary care physician ran an electrocardiogram but saw nothing abnormal. I was an athletic, lean 53-year-old who ate nutritious foods. He decided I was just stressed and gave me the go-ahead to go to Nicaragua on vacation.
But while there, the angina went from mild to severe. The pain would come and go, but on three separate occasions the pain was the most massive...
After your CABG surgery, you will still be unconscious, or asleep. You will probably be taken to the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) or surgical ICU before you wake up. This unit has specially trained hospital staff that will watch your condition very closely.
When you no longer need to be watched so closely, you will be moved to another area of the hospital called a step-down unit or cardiac recovery floor.
In the hospital before going home
You will recover in the step-down unit of the hospital until your doctors feel it is safe for you to go home. You must demonstrate that you are capable of performing basic daily activities like walking and sitting upright. Staff in the step-down unit will also help you begin your rehabilitation and educate you on how to take care of yourself when you return home.
You may return home a few days after your CABG surgery. But it may take several months before you can return to all of the activities you enjoyed prior to surgery. Your doctor will help you plan your recovery and will also tell you what activities you can and cannot do during your recovery.
Recovery from major surgery has both physical and emotional aspects. How fast you recover physically will depend on your health before CABG surgery. You will probably have some pain. You may also feel frustrated, angry, or lonely. It is important that you have emotional support from friends, family, and medical staff during your recovery.
What you have to do during your recovery
There are several things you have to do while you are recovering from CABG surgery, including: