Dad's heart did move from a sinus rhythm (normal) to atrial fibrillation (also known as AFib) overnight, which is very common and something that the nurses and doctors were watching for. The doctor said that 60-70% of heart surgery patients will experience AFib post-op, but it should resolve with some medication and should not be a long-term issue. After surgery, it's normal to have some swelling around the aorta, which puts some pressure on the electrical bits and can cause the AFib temporarily.
We actually celebrated Dad exceeding 1000 mL on the incentive spirometer AND his heart rhythm moving back from AFib to a sinus rhythm at the same moment! Nurse April confirmed that the deep breathing exercises can help to relieve pressure on a big nerve that runs all the way to his heart, so all the work that Dad has been doing is definitely paying off.
The AFib can mean that the heart is pumping less efficiently, doctor says perhaps sending 30% less oxygen to the blood, so Dad still reports feeling "whomped" today, especially after walking. Walking still feels better than it feels bad (moving around = worth it!) but we are hopeful that the regular heart rhythm will help him start to feel less just-hit-by-a-train and more like himself.
The doctors did move him from a Clear Liquid diet to a Heart Healthy diet this morning, which means Dad was able to order his own lunch from the room service menu! Not all his normal faves (like walleye or mac-and-cheese) sound appetizing yet, but we ordered exactly zero Jell-O and instead asked for orange juice, raspberry sherbet, applesauce, and toast. A magical Diet 7UP arrived on his tray as well (unprompted) which turned out to sound very appealing, too. His last blood sugar check this morning was in the normal range, which means they don't have to do any more finger sticks. Every thing that comes out, turns off, or drops off the schedule is a big W for Dad.
The kids are saying goodbye now to give Dad a chance to nap, but it was great to watch the game together and we are encouraged by Dad's continued progress. We are also comforted by the excellent staff that we meet here at UW Hospital, everyone who has come in to walk with Dad or administer medications has been outstanding.
Perhaps lemonade with dinner? One of Dad's favorites!
From all of us here in Wisconsin, thank you for the continued love and support!