Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bypass Surgery- A first hand account

24th Aug 09

By Pass Surgery

You want to know how it will be to go thro Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery ( CABG ), commonly known as By Pass Surgery ? Here is a first hand account .

It was 915 am – 6th Aug 09 - Malar Hospital , Adyar. The Angiogram result showed that I had three blocks in the main arteries and one in a branch. After the Consultant Cardiologist Dr Ravi Kumar who did the Angiogram - consulted his senior surgeon – the well known Dr K R Balakrishnan- , it was decided to have CABG on 7th Aug 09. by about 2 pm. So the preparations began …..

Pre Operation

In order to ascertain that I was fit for the operation, various tests were conducted starting from the evening of 6th Aug. Blood was tested for all parameters, BP and pulse were tested at periodic intervals, Blood clotting time was measured. And the hair was removed from all over my body , both the hands, both the legs, chest, stomach and back. ( This was to help easy insertion of tubes, stitching and taping.)

The next day- the D day- , I was told to finish my breakfast at 7 am and after that nothing – not even water – was to be taken. By 10 am, some more tests were conducted- Chest X Ray, ECG, Echo tests etc. All these reports were seen by the Anaesthetist and after clearance from him, the ‘goahead’ was given for the operation.

This was perhaps an easier phase when all you may have is mental tension. But I tried to make the situation less painful by looking cheerful , talking to people, and joking with relatives and friends who were around me. I hope this helped me a lot to remain cool.


I was moved to the operation theatre at 1 15 pm . Immediately after, I was placed on the operation table and some needles were fixed at my neck. Anaesthesia was then given to me and I went to unconscious state. I did not feel any pain and I don’t know what happened to me after that. CABG was done at four places to bypass all the blocks . Nerve for a length of about two feet has been taken from my left leg ( from upper thigh to toe ) for use in the four bypass paths. Dr K R Balakrishnan did the operation with a team of four doctors.

This was perhaps the easiest phase, though the most important one, as I did not feel any pain !

Post operation ICU 1st Day

I was later told that the operation was over by about 5 pm and I was moved to ICU by about 7 pm. I became conscious that night though I don’t remember the exact time. I started feeling the pain and I could find a no of tubes fitted to various parts of my body. I could not move
this way or that way. It was paining and boring as I could not sleep for more than one hour at a stretch. It was a difficult phase but I did not know that a more difficult phase was awaiting me.

Post Operation ICU 2nd and 3rd day.

I continued to be in ICU on 9th and 10th Aug. On 10th Aug, most of the tubes were removed , drips was stopped and solid food was given. But the pain continued and a new problem started. That was coughing. Dr said that flum will form in the lungs and the only way to take out that is to cough and spit it out. I was told to press a small pillow or towel against the chest whenever cough comes so that the pain is lessened. From 9th for more than a week, I suffered a lot due to this cough . This , in my opinion, is the most difficult phase in the recovery mode.

Post operation 4th day

After solid food was started , I was wondering as to how I was going to manage toilet necessity. On 10th night, I was helped with a bed pan by the ward boy. On 11th morning, all the tubes were removed and I was assisted by the ward boys to walk and slowly I managed to go to toilet on my own. Physiotherapy exercises for breathing were given from 9th onwards and walking exercise was started on 11th. Pain started reducing from 11th onwards .

Post operation 5th day to 8th day.

I was moved to the room on 11th by about 1230 pm. It was a relief that I could have my close ones by my side and this helped a lot in recovering faster. I was recovering well except of course the cough which was giving a lot of pain in my chest. Even if I talk a word or two, cough used to come and I used to suffer for the next half an hour or so. Hence I stopped talking .

Because of the pain esp due to the chest wounds, I found it very diffucult to sleep. I could not lie in one posture for more than one or two hours and many a times, I had to sit up. This constant changing of positions caused a lot of pain and discomfort too. But I slowly came out of this phase also.

As I was otherwise alright, I was discharged from the hospital on 14th.

Recovery at Home 9th day onwards.

I started feeling much better in home atmosphere . The Dr had said that I could walk up the first floor . So I myself walked up slowly . I continued to have persistent cough till 17th Aug and because of that, some water started oozing out of the stitched portion in the chest. I went to the hospital on 15th and again on 19th for redressing the wounds. For the last three days, the cough has stopped to a very great extent and this has given me much relief. Since coming home, I am able to sleep well also.

The wounds at Chest and leg are slowly healing. Dr has advised that for a few more days , water should not touch the wounds and therefore I continue to have only towel bath everyday.

The stitches at chest and leg are absorbable type and hence they will be left as such .

Though people say that Bypass surgery is common and one can come home in 8/9 days, it is still painful and I would not want even my enemy to go thro this .

It may take about three to four months for full recovery. I am now walking for about 15 mins in the morning and about 15 mins in the evening within the house. I will shortly start walking in the street.

I am on normal diet now.

I will write again on further progress.

The total hospital expenses came to Rs 2,22,000. ( Rs 20000 for angiogram and Rs 202000 for CABG ). The insurance company paid Rs 2,17,000 and the balance Rs 5000 was borne by me.