So, continuing from - here I am!

I am pleased to say that the operation was a complete success; my surgeon has reported an "excellent" clearing of the clots (apparently a very rare occurrence) and my procedure has been completely curative. I won't be needing any more heart/lung surgeries in later life on the basis that I keep fit and look after myself.

I will be getting a picture of the clots they removed either today or tomorrow, but for now I'm holed up in a recovery ward, have had 3 days worth of morphine and my chest drains taken out (they totally squelch)

But here I am!


EDIT: here are the clots!

Comments: 1717 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

lokiikol1306 karma

Dude, I saw your post the other day and I was thinking about you this afternoon. I'm really glad to hear everything went well!

So, what is the first real food you're going to eat when you get out of the hospital?

And what is the first activity you're going to do?

Also, will you be getting some new ink to commemorate this experience?

MittenSmuggler1205 karma

Thank you man!

The food here isn't too bad actually, and I've got a chicken tikka masala coming in a few hours - but I can't wait for a lovely Italian or something after I leave. Everything tastes a bit metallic at the moment and kinda digestivey!

I was the 1092nd person to have this operation - I was also born in 10/92 (as someone who doesn't particularly believe in fate) which is very odd. So I may get a 1092 tattooed somewhere but I haven't really thought about it yet!

Activity-wise, I'll get a treadmill and start to recoup at home. We're talking 6-10 weeks bwfofe my breastbone is healed enough to actually do anything really!

lokiikol130 karma


That is honestly the first time I have ever heard that particular to elaborate?

MittenSmuggler221 karma

I mean like the biscuits; a kinda stale, woody taste. It's pretty bad.

lokiikol100 karma

Hey what hospital are you in? I'll order you up a pizza or some takeout...unless you're close by, in which case I'd bring you something myself. Sadly, the law of averages means we're probably a little ways apart...

Any restrictions on your diet right now? I mean, if you're getting some Indian food, you're probably ready for just about anything...

MittenSmuggler201 karma

I'm in Papworth hospital in Cambrigeshire in the uk. Pizza would be the best, but I think the cholesterol would finish me off! Later into recovery, I'll be so for a Pizza Express or something (the pollo ad Astra, Romana base) - but the chicken tikka is gonna help, uh, move other things along. Ew.

LeTrolleur37 karma

Oh shit, over the past five years I've visited my dad in that place so many times, he was in for mycobacterium abcessus and pneumonia, he's better now though, wishing you a speedy recovery!

IIRC there's a Chinese takeaway just up the road if you fancy something other than hospital food.

Again, good luck!

MittenSmuggler50 karma

We found out about this place the other day! Aside from that or the nisa supermarket, or the heart surgery there's nothing here to do!

fodafoda93 karma

more importantly: are you allowed to have sex?

MittenSmuggler353 karma

"As soon as you feel up to it"

churninbutter1194 karma

It's funny that, while you're a complete stranger, this news made my day.

Get well soon!

MittenSmuggler682 karma

Y'all are all my favourites. This whole thread is like honey and positivity.

falafelwafflerofl363 karma

No question here, but so glad to see you made it out okay. You make heart surgery look congratulations on that!

MittenSmuggler512 karma


I put the 'arse' in heart surgery.


no, really I do.

MittenSmuggler178 karma


I put the 'arse' in heart surgery.


no, really I do.

SerBison355 karma

Hey dude, you've got something on your chest.

Thanks for the gold!

MittenSmuggler499 karma

Oh shit, hey, thanks man.

braisednostalgia243 karma

This might get downvoted, but I've had about 5 open heart surgeries; I'm so glad yours came out ok! Just to let you know, the next 2 months will be rough. Coming out of surgery like this there is a feeling of extreme happiness/ gratefulness for the first week to 2 weeks, then it gets rough.
You'll get frustrated that the healing takes so long, that you can't do simple things... it gets hard. If you need someone to talk to when that happens, feel free to PM me and I'll give you my phone number. Again, congrats on it going so well, and enjoy your rest while you can get it!

MittenSmuggler191 karma

Yeah, this is my second one - I ended up getting way worse after the first one and never properly recovered, this time around I know that the way to get better will be long and I'm already appreciating everything. It is a beautiful thing to realise, that life should be appreciated!

startin-over208 karma

damn. they messed up yer ink, bro!

MittenSmuggler469 karma

They moved my ink, but saved my life! I know what I hold more dearly.

lokiikol213 karma

I'd give up some skin to save my skin...

MittenSmuggler182 karma

Totally worth it!

neurofluxation194 karma

I remember your original thread. So glad you're ok.
+/u/dogetipbot 89 doge
I didn't have that much left...

imareddituserhooray123 karma

Now he can pay his medical bills! Edit: but seriously, stoked the surgery went well.

MittenSmuggler140 karma

Thank you buddy. I cannot even begin to describe how relieved I am!

MittenSmuggler68 karma


Fuckyoudanny169 karma

Any aspiring designers should totally send in ideas for the 1092 inkwork, I'd love to see some kickass designs for this guy!

In all seriousness though OP, glad you're okay, best of luck on the road to recovery, and for the future mate!

MittenSmuggler118 karma

Completely agree - send 'em this way guys!

Wesselhoff152 karma

Awesome, happy not-dead-day!

MittenSmuggler91 karma

Hey, thanks man!

DefiniteMethAddict149 karma

Now that you have a separated breastbone, what happens when you need to poop? If its a struggle, can that kind of motion pop things open again?

MittenSmuggler268 karma

Pooping is gonna hurt and I can't tense too much pahahahaha. I do believe that yeah that sort of motion can re-open it.


hypocaffeinemia201 karma

ICU nurse here: We typically put post-operative heart surgery patients on stool softeners as one of many things to help discourage "bearing down" although this doesn't affect the sternotomy as much as you would think (it's more to prevent vasovagal symptoms). It's been closed with some ridiculously big steel wires that will show up on your x-rays for the rest of your life. The big problem with the sternotomy is coughing and using your arms to push yourself up out of bed/chairs as this puts direct pressure onto the sternum. We have patient brace themselves with pillows and train them how to get up without pushing off using their hands.

MittenSmuggler282 karma

This has definitely been the hardest bit so far - moving around without have the ability to move your arms! Every time I've accidentally used my arms it's been pretty agonising, and the roll of towels is definitely helping a little.

As for poop, no luck, try again tomorrow.

(did you just say that? Online?!)

lostecho145 karma

Congratulations on the successful surgery! Now I'm a tad bit obsessed with trying to understand what I can't comprehend so I was wondering if you could walk us through every emotion, thought you felt when you first went into the operating room. An if you did feel or see anything I would love to know what exactly being dead felt like from your perspective?

MittenSmuggler335 karma

It's been an emotional roller coaster, not just the surgery, but the entire journey from months ago until today. I don't think I'll ever forget how nervous I was showering with the pre-op disinfectant soap, question whether or not is make it through the 24 hours that followed. The operation was 10 hours long, so that part was taxing on my family's part - I completely made up my own version of events; in my mind I was wheeled in the theatre doors and taken to a room in which there were 3 other people getting anaesthetised. I then fell asleep and woke up in the ICU. It turns out that there was no room where people were getting anaesthetic and the only room next to the theatre was the recovery ccu. So what I experienced there is a blur, but I definitely experienced something.

From there on in all I've had are blurry little flashbacks of the ICU and the staff there, I asked my PTE specialist nurse if she knew she was pregnant about 1,000 times and I spent 48 hours just absolutely tripping out.

The experience of the death in the operation isn't a tangible thing, but there is a memory there - I remember things happening in that time period, but I couldn't tell you what they were or what they meant. Maybe I'll remember more as I recover, but there was that very odd moment of believing that something happened and it didn't at all!

ballsoup124 karma

Was she actually pregnant? That'd be something if she just had a food baby

MittenSmuggler284 karma

She was actually pregnant! I kept mentioning it apparently, she'd be cleaning my drains and whatever and I'd be saying "stop it that's too much for you to do, you're pregnant!'

powlesy6137 karma

Great news. My best friend from since we were kids had a heart transplant 4 years ago and since then i've been all about supporting the cause and charity work for BHF (British Heart Foundation). Successes like this always make me smile. The sad thing is, September 22nd last year, my best mate died. He went down to 6 stone after being on a transfer list for so long and once he finally got it, his life was exceptional. He was one of the main ambassadors for the opt-out system that the Welsh assembly currently use. In those extra years he taught himself guitar, got engaged and achieved a lot of things he wouldn't have got the chance too otherwise.

Here is when things were going well.

And then here's the tragic end.

I am forever grateful for those extra years we had together, obviously i'd do anything to bring him back. There's so many sufferers of heart disease that don't get the right treatment or a transfer in time and research has really moved on these last few years. Donate to your countries heart foundations people, it really does make a difference.

MittenSmuggler41 karma

Oh my god I'm so sorry to hear about your best friend. I hope that you're being able to move on with your life and get the closure you deserve from what looks like a bunch of really awesome memories.

That Christmas picture got me - made me think of just quite how different things could have been if medical science hadn't have been involved, and a very skilled team of people took time out to fix me! I know that nothing can bring your friend back, but know that I'll not take a day for granted for his sake as well as mine. Stay strong pally.

Squishy_squid114 karma

Bro did you see tupac?

MittenSmuggler151 karma

2pac is 100% alive, can confirm, didn't see him.

randnumbot93 karma

Great news! Aside from the physical discomfort, you must be relieved! Do you feel any different now mentally, like do you suddenly feel the desire to do something in particular now that you've survived the surgery (post-recovery of course)?

MittenSmuggler239 karma

I don't feel too great, mentally, anyway - I've been described as a 'space cadet' with the amount or morphine, codiene and other pain killers that I've been on (as they've been sending me into orbit!) and this morning I've been on gas and air for the chest drains to come out! I haven't suddenly got an urge to do ballet or something - I just want to carry I being me and making music and living life to its fullest!

Itsthejoker91 karma

My girlfriend sends me this IM from work today:

"Did you see mittensmuggler made it through his surgery

i'm so happy for him, and the female population of the world

I replied:

"...why the female population?"


"did you see how attractive he is? DAYUM"

tl;dr: congratulations on surviving, you handsome schmuck

MittenSmuggler191 karma

Going into hospital unwell and single

Leaving with a new heart and your girlfriend's

okay cool

louman8456 karma

Congrats on the surgery! When you get the chance, show us your medical bills. Just something compare if it was done in the US. I'm already assuming your bills are somewhere close to "free".

MittenSmuggler152 karma

In terms of medical bills for the operation/bed space/medication this has cost me absolutely nothing. £0. Considering an MRI alone in the states can cost a few hundred dollars, I'd have to say that I am so glad I live over here.

ImumCoeli48 karma


MittenSmuggler89 karma

I've always thought highly of the nhs ever since they started treating me 7 years ago. Generally, if you're in for something major like this, you're going to be in the capable arms of the same surgeon - a comfortable room and given medication to make you feel better. With a condition like mine, Papworth are the authorised centre in the uk to treat it, so no matter what I would have had the op - either way I would have been treated by the same team (I'm currently in a "private" room, which is no different to other hospitals - aside from free tv and wifi yaaaaay) and my recovery is gonna be the same!

Chaggi33 karma

I was literally just talking about your story to my students in Korea (I teach an AP Bio class, just finished Human Physiology!) Glad to hear you're alright!

MittenSmuggler48 karma

Hey! Well tell them I said hi, tomorrow I should get a copy of the picture of all of the clots they removed. I'll post a link here as soon as I get one!

riningear30 karma


I saw your post while glancing through the AMA, and I'm really glad for you!

Are there any activities you're restricted from doing because of this? Roller coasters, skydiving, extreme yodeling?

MittenSmuggler32 karma

I jokingly asked this to the ICU guys and the response was 'you'll be fine to skydive, just give it 6 weeks.'

Crazy, right?

WalterWhitesHat28 karma

What's your favourite type of cheese?

MittenSmuggler51 karma

Emmental all day

david-me22 karma

Happy Holidays. Congrats on your Christmas scientific miracle. I hope you buy each of your doctors a beer.

MittenSmuggler33 karma

I wish I could! I instead had the surgeon come around and see me again this morning whilst I was in the I dignified experience of having my chest drains out - gas and air, followed by very loud 'thank you's were exchanged!

crispychoc76 karma

Get the surgeon to sign your chest/piece of paper, and write 1092, so you can ink it later! 1092 in his handwriting would be cool.

MittenSmuggler104 karma

That's a fucking good idea, I'm gonna do that tomorrow!

RaptorEchelon12 karma

I hate to be that guy but I did not think you were gonna make it dude. I'm so fucking happy you did. Seriously, enjoy life bro.

MittenSmuggler19 karma

That makes a few of us! Seriously though, thanks dude.

89987710 karma

Did you notice being dead? Or did it just feel like sleep

MittenSmuggler19 karma

No time passed at all, I felt like I went through a continuous motion into and out of the operating theatre, the actual operation didn't happen in my memory and it turns out I spent 48 hours coming down from the anaesthetic!

MittenSmuggler9 karma

I know that this thread is long dead and buried, and I doubt that any of you guys will see this BUT I am home - I have been since last Wednesday, and I am doing absolutely incredibly, I'm walking a mile + every day, my oxygen saturation is in the high 90's and the operation was a complete success.

I will have a 6 week, then a 3 month check up to see how I'm doing. If the pressures in my right heart have dropped to below 20 (I think) by 3-6 months, then I will have a normal life expectancy and every reason to be as normal as possible. I've already started to take getting fit very seriously, and I'm currently about 3-4 weeks ahead of my walking schedule. I want to impress the surgeon when I meet him again in 6 weeks by walking over 2 miles a day, maybe pushing for 3 but we'll see. This year is gonna be the best.

randnumbot4 karma

Why are there downvotes on this thread? wtf is wrong with people‽‽‽

MittenSmuggler13 karma

There were in the pre-op thread too; I guess it just first appeal to everyone's interests! It's all good, though.

Mcvaffle1 karma

Im glad you are ok and all is well for you!

I would like to know what was wrong in the first place with your heart and what side effects did you experience that lead you to check your heart and have a surgery?

MittenSmuggler2 karma

I had Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension caused by clots in the lungs - symptoms were severe breathlessness (couldn't walk ~200/300 feet without being gasping for breath), chest pains etc. I coughed up blood a few times but I would be putting off thinking about it as much as possible - I'd already had a PE and didn't want to think about the possibility of another one, I think. But now I'm out, I'm cured and I'm ready to fight to get my fitness up!

MySunAnStars1 karma

Has Marfan affected your life in other ways? I have 3 students with the syndrome and it seems to vary in severity.

One is due for a heart valve replacement in the New Year and I've seen the anxiety change his behavior very negatively. I know its different from the surgery you just had, and maybe its silly to ask, but is there anything that helped you cope before the surgery? Or at least not make it any worse?

MittenSmuggler3 karma

I never had/don't have Marfan's! I had Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension - I think that can also be developed in people with Marfan's and I think that quite a few PTEs would have been done on people with CTEPH who'd got it from there? Preparing for a surgery is nearly impossible, you can never know what to expect and how your experience is going to differ from the next person's. As soon as that anaesthetic is in your system that's it, you're in & you're out and if you're lucky you're in one piece. There really wasn't a way for me to prepare for it, other than to lay back and let them put the line in! I woke up a day later, still dazed now, and I'm okay (or is this all a dream?!)

the_reveler-6 karma

Great to hear the good news, still I don't see why there is a need to do another AMA.

MittenSmuggler7 karma

People wanted to know that I was okay, and the news is universally good so I had to let everyone know!