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Aortic dissection, aortic aneurysm - The aorta - Life after an aortic dissection

Recovering from Aortic Dissection Surgery - Breathing Exercises

Just a quick blog (note) as I only just thought of this this morning and wanted to share it with new entrants to the "AD zipper club"! As part of the pain management that your body automatically puts in place during the first few months after the operation to handle the pain of the chest healing - it REALLY hurts to laugh, cough, (sneezing is out of the question!) and even breathe deeply. I found that one of the defence mechanisms against this pain that I had carried over some months after the chest surgery was that I was still breathing shallowly to avoid the pain of deep breathing that I got when my chest was healing. So, once your chest pain has subsided (about 3-4 months or so I think in my case) my doctor got me doing deep breathing exercises using the ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE.

It really works! I also had physiotherapy for about 4 weeks with this as well. By combining these 2 together I found that it helped immensely in being able to properly walk and exercise again - not back to my previous level - but a lot better than I was doing. Deep breathing is all about using ALL of your lungs capacity by 'diaphragmatic breathing'. Here's a quote from Wikopedia: "Diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing, seesaw breathing, deep breathing or costal breathing is the act of breathing deep into your lungs by flexing your diaphragm rather than breathing shallowly by flexing your rib cage. This deep breathing is marked by expansion of the stomach (abdomen) rather than the chest when breathing. It is generally considered a healthier and fuller way to ingest oxygen, and is often used as a therapy for hyperventilation and anxiety disorders".

Best advice is check with your doctor - but it REALLY worked for me! I will get the whole recovery story up in a blog as soon as I can, but I am quite busy this week. Remember that recovering from this operation REALLY hurts the body - as much as the head - but in many ways the body recovers a lot quicker than your head!



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Tags: alexander, aortic, breathing, chest, diaphragmatic, dissection, operation, recovery, technique

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Comment by Richard Deal on November 25, 2009 at 23:43
this was also the case for me... it was only after i could breathe properly again and was trying to that i noticed what my subconscious had done. one thing that helped me no end was always having a rolled up towel near me at the very beginning of the healing process. that way if i needed to cough i could quickly grab it and "cuddle" it up against my sternotomy scar. this reduced the pain substantially when i did cough because it prevented the cough "spasm". when i was in hospital they had me doing breathing exercises as my primary physio together with regular back rubs with rubbing alcohol to loosen off the intubation residue in my lungs. in rehab i was doing a thing called "inhalation" where i would breathe in air together with a fine mist of what i assume was a bronchodilator for 10 minutes. despite all of this i think i started breathing properly again about 3 months after my surgery (6 weeks after leaving rehab).


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