Although I'm just repeating stuff already here and you know I have been through this kind of thing, it's always best to hear it from as many people as possible.
1. Take more pain relief than you think you need. If your feeling at all uncomfortable, then take something. You will soon know when you can reduce it. It took me 2 and a half months to come off mine totally.
2. Talk to people who have been through similar ops. See if there's a support group. As a previously massive sceptic of such things, I now know that it helps enormously.
3. Ignore people who say "you'll be fine". Sure they just want to put you at your ease, but unless they are experts in your particular situation, then they won't know about it. Know the risks, but don't dwell on them. Buy a relaxation cd to help (again something I used to be a sceptic of).
4. Never, under any circumstance, underestimate the skill and kindness of the surgeons, nurses, registrars and any other medical staff.
5. When you're in hospital, encourage people to visit you so that in the visiting hours, you are never alone. It may be different in US private healthcare but in my case, there were only 5 hours of visiting time. I needed all 5 to be filled for my day to be really good.
6. NEVER feel you shouldn't talk about this. We all have our crosses to bear, and we all deserve attention at some point. Don't feel embarrassed about needing this done. All surgery is serious, so when people tell you "oh well, I
had open heart surgery, so you'll be fine", it's best to just humour them, and know in your heart what is true.
7. (Last one). It is perfectly fine to feel bloody scared, and cry a lot.
My thoughts are with you on this Heidi. Best of British!