On of the hardest parts of recovery from heart surgery is the time it take for the sternum (breastbone) to heal. A sneeze feels like a hammer blow to the chest, and even the littlest things are painful – you just don’t believe how many activities involve your chest muscles and breastbone in some way.
I always seemed to be dropping things – the law of gravity is still being enforced, so I would have to bend down and pick up whatever I had dropped. That HURT! I even started keeping my back straight and squatting down (the proper way to pick up a large object without hurting your back) but that didn’t seem to help very much at all. Grabbing an item from the floor still hurt, just not quite as bad. So I got pretty good at grabbing small objects – pencils, forks, etc. – between my toes and lifting it with my foot! Not the most sanitary trick ever invented, but once I got it off the floor I could wash it off. Actually getting down to the object was difficult, so I used that little foot-grab a lot!
There’s a new surgical technique being used in Calgary that can really reduce the pain and recovery time of heart surgery: gluing the breastbone back together. instead of staples and wire, these surgeons are using a new adhesive that is compatible with the human body to seal the breastbone. Patients are reporting less pain and shorter recovery times.
Glues used in wound recovery aren’t new, but it is the first time that this type of wound closure has been tried. Although the number of cases is low (about 20 patients so far) a larger research study using the patented adhesive has just kicked off. With luck the glue will soon be a standard part of surgical recovery!