Whats 10 inches long, has a slight curve to it, is shaved, and hella ugly.............but still makes me want to play with it? My new scar!!! I havent named it yet, but I will. Surprisingly calm about what was about to happen, I went to the hospital at 6am on December 14th. They explained (again) what the game plan was, but seamed to skip over the part that said they were going to shave me from my chest down to my knees. They described the 3 phases of anaesthesia, and what to expect right after surgery. When you are under for a long time, you need to come out of it naturally, as opposed to a relatively short (knee surgery?) where they give you another anaesthetic to pull you back into reality. At least thats what I understood. One was to relax. Then one to forget everything that was about to happen. And the last one to go night night. Shortly after that, I think was when they pulled out a sawzall and went to town. Split me right down the middle. Ill spare you the gory details, but lets just say they cant operate on your heart if its still beating. My damaged valve (Mitral) is in the back of the heart, so it (heart) was moved around and what not for better access. There are no stitches or staples holding me together. They use a medical type super glue which has proved to help cut back on possible infection. I wanted to post something before I went in, but my doctors all stressed how much rest I was going to need, and didnt want me answering my phone. If it makes any difference, my immediate family was allowed to visit 2 at a time, for only 5 minutes out of every hour. My brother snapped 3 pics of the rats nest of wires and tubes before the nurses made him put his camera away. I still havent seen them. Post op, rumor has it that the designer in me spoke first and asked if the scar was straight. I certainly dont remember, but it sounds like something I would say. Due to the tube causing pain in my throat, I distinctly remember asking for a slurpee, but my request went unanswered. Bastards!!!!!! After that, I dont recall much of the time I spent in ICU. I know that despite all the specialists telling me there was probably less than a ten percent chance of repair (vs. Replaceing the valve), I finally caught a break. The relief of not needing blood thinners for the rest of my life, along with knowing I would be able to get back in the water was unreal. Some friends were so stoked Id be able to surf with them again, they pitched in so I could get a custom shaped board. Despite the potential of losing any manliness I may have had, this made me cry for the first time in who knows how long. And I gotta say, surf trips to Costa Rica (and beyond) are way better than heart operations. Friends rule!!! There were a couple of glitches along the way as well, but all things considered Im beyond pleased. The day after surgery my right lung collapsed. They did something with a large needle, but I dont recall any pain.......just a little bit of pressure. I think all the needle work is just part of the process now (and has been for the past 3 months). After initially showing improvement, the next morning it was worse. While awake and alert, they inserted a tube (the size of an index finger) into my chest, and it was significantly more torturous. When it went through the sack around my lung it made a crazy sound like a flat tire. Psssshhhhhhhhhh. That went to a little machine that made bubbling noises, which I needed to carry with me should I venture down the hall on a short walk. It kept company with the drain tube protruding from beneath my rib cage for about a week. I transferred out of ICU and headed to another room. It was the first one Ive had to share in 3 months. My roommate definitely wasnt an HAMBer. What a fuckin sissy..............not to mention they never found anything thing worse than an ulcer in the 8 days he was there!!!! I was released December 21st (I think.........it could have been the 20th) and I headed to my parents place. Perhaps a day or two after Christmas, I was having difficulty taking a deep breath. There was a sharp pain on my left side........but way to the left. Not anywhere near any incisions. After visiting the cardiologist, he said the sack around my heart was a little bit pissed off at the surgery and was rubbing against my ticker. A few pills and cat scan of my chest clearing me of any clots did the trick. For the past 2 weeks I have been learning what I can and cant do. Although it takes me longer than normal, I can shower, eat, get dressed, and meander for a 5-10 minutes at a time. Getting out of bed is a bit of a challenge, as I cant use my stomach muscles to sit up like I used to. Its more of a roll. Im just beginning to be able to roll onto my side now. I really need to think about it, because sometimes I feel my sternum click. Its still growing back together and tied up with wires (all on the inside). Opening jars are a pain in the butt, as are heavy doors. Child proof medicine caps are damned near impossible. No driving yet, and I cant lift anything over 10 lbs for 3 months. Plugging something into a light socket is tough as well, so I use my knee to assist. Of all things, my biggest fear at the moment is sneezing. If I do too much, my body lets me know and I take a little nap. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. After visiting the surgeon, today (Fri) I arrived back home in Redondo. I need to unpack, but expect that to take about a week. Im off all pain meds, and my hair is unruly. Not even gel can fix it. From here on out its recoup, recoup, recoup. Doc says I will pretty much back to the way I was before I got sick in about 6 months. According to my math skills, that should be right around Paso. Sweet!!!!!! 2007 brings me a ton to be thankful for. Far more in fact than what I could possibly even begin to bitch about. Being above ground is a good thing. I hope you all appreciate it. Thats it for now, just wanted to fill you in. Happy new year. Coby This is about 10 days after the surgery. You can see the super glue instead of stitches or staples. A few days later, it peeled off, and with it came the dried blood that makes this pic look worse than it actually is. The red dots at the bottom are from these little electrical wires they put in in case there are problems. Then they can use them like jumper cables to hook up a temporary pace maker without splitting you back open. Out of frame to the bottom is another small scar (1 inch?) from the drain tube. Then about an inch under my right nipple is another one inch scar that was from when they inserted another tube after my lung collapsed. Oops.