Time for a CABG update: 1 year and 4 months without any complications, problems or, surprisingly enough, complaints. That’s right, folks, it’s been a year ‘n a third since Dr. Robert S. Poston of Tucson opened my chest and replaced three fuel lines. What did I expect at the time? To be honest, I wasn’t at all sure of what I should expect. Dr. Poston assured me that, if I worked on my recovery, I’d be able to do pretty much anything I’d been able to accomplish (physically and mentally) that I had before my heart disease had reduced my single cylinder engine (yeah, the old thumper) to only popping on an occasional power stroke.
Let’s make this specific. As of 16 months after the operation, I’m doing my longer walks five days a week. That’s between 5 and 7 miles, hilly terrain, mile high elevation. I’ve not returned to bicycling not because I don’t think I can but because I’m enjoying the walks so much.
Strength: I’m strict curling 30 pound dumbbells for six reps, that’s a pyramid of 20 lbs. for 12 reps, 25 lbs. for 8 reps, 30 lbs. for 6 followed by 2 straight bar sets with 75 lbs., all curls are alternated with triceps cable press downs with 60 lbs. on the cable. This is my routine for arms days, which I do twice weekly before a walk, curls and press downs are followed by light dumbbell deltoid lifts, head strap (neck) lifts and lat rows.
Two other days I do chest, which is, of course, rather a careful process considering my sternum was wacked open then sewn shut with titanium thread. I delayed doing any chest work until June of last year, allowing my chest a full six months to heal. Each bench press is strict. I lower the weight to my chest, touching, for a count of three before beginning the press up. I pyramid, 10 reps with 100 lbs., 6 reps with 140 lbs., 2 reps with 160 lbs., then singles for the remainder, all alternated with “T” bar trapezoid lifts with 150 lbs. on the bar. Big news: I’m doing a strict single with 190 lbs., well on target for my goal of 200 lbs. two years after CABGx3.
Physical statistics: I was 68 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, and I weighed slightly over 160 lbs. when I rolled out of Tucson’s University Medical Center on December 27, 2013, with the skin of my chest glued together. My weight was down a few pounds, no more than four, from my weight when I wobbled through a myocardial infarction on December 9, 2013.
As of April 12, 2015, my weight is about 170 lbs., which I have no problem maintaining with proper exercise and diet. I’ve added significant arm and chest strength compared to what I had when the heart attack occurred. My chest (normal) is 44 inches, waist 33 inches (yeah, I wish it were smaller but better fed then dead), arms 15 1/2 inch flexed. That’s down from a lifetime best of 195 lbs. in 1974, waist at the time of 30 inches, arms 17 1/2 inches and best bench press of 335 lbs. ‘Course I was a tad younger in 1974.
Regrets: I’ve had a few…think I stole that from Frank Sinatra…but so far, the trip’s been fun and I look forward to another 15 or 20 years of irritating the hell out of the world in my miniscule way. If you’re in line for open-heart surgery: Do it. You’ll feel much better if you don’t die. That’s truthful, there’s always the chance of not surviving but if you feel the way I did just before my MI, going missing wasn’t the worst possible outcome.
Dr. Poston said recovery was up to me. I could do it on a couch eating potato chips and watching TV or I could work my ass off and get better.