My Heart Story: Surgery to Recovery – Part I

My Heart Story: Surgery to Recovery – Part I

It was an emergency on 28th of February 2022 and I was rushed to Asian Heart Institute in BKC in Bandra East, Mumbai by my son Nakuul and wife Shail. We were very fortunate to get continuous advice on cell phone from our Navy cardiologist Surgeon Capt Rajesh Pandey. Infect Rajesh had done my angiography at Navy hospital Asvini just 3 days ago on 25th Feb.

Ramakant Panda, who is the Chief Consultant for Cardiovascular Thoracic Surgery and Managing Director of the Asian Heart Institute, saw me and advised immediate admission for coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Let me share here that Dr Panda is one of the handful doctors in India, who perform beating heart surgery.

During pre-operative period, I was counselled by Dr Vijay DeSilva, intensive care specialist, Dr Manoj Chauhan, anaesthesiologist and Dr Tanay, a resident surgeon and assistant to Dr Panda. They explained the procedure, along with pros and cons. Similarly, my son and wife who were in the waiting lounge, were also explained about the surgery. No relative is allowed to go to ICU. They saw my face and said Hi through video call, before I was given anaesthesia.

I didn’t know when I was wheeled into operation theatre. I was operated on Wednesday 2nd March 2022. The surgery went on for nearly 12 hours. It’s 7th week now and I am up and about. Writing my first post on social media today.

What happened after open-heart surgery?

When I woke up after surgery, had two or three tubes in my chest. Dr DeSilva explained to me the next day, “These are to help drain fluid from the area around my heart”. I had intravenous (IV) lines in my arm to supply me with fluids, as well as a catheter (thin tube) in my bladder to remove urine.

Sister (Nurse) Mamta explained, “Sir you are attached to various machines that monitors my heart parameters”. Nurses were always nearby to help me if something should arise.

I spent first two nights in the intensive care unit (ICU). Then I was moved to a regular care room for the next seven days and discharged on 9th March.

My experience post-surgery in ICU

I don’t really remember waking up for the first time, but I do have memories of wakefulness during the first few hours. I had a breathing tube in place, was exhausted, in pain, and on a lot of medication.

But that same morning, after they had removed the tube and I was more awake and aware, the ICU nurses got me up on my feet, and I walked around the unit for maybe 30 seconds. I was told before the surgery that it would be incredibly important to get up and get moving as soon as possible, to help prevent blood clots post-surgery, and that’s exactly what they had me do.

I also had to practice deep breathing and coughing at regular intervals, to help keep my lungs clear of pneumonia. I was given a chest belt to hold to my sternum as a sort of brace during these efforts. I needed that brace because my surgeon had performed an upper hemi-sternotomy: he cut open the upper half of my sternum, from about upper-point in my chest to my clavicle and pulled my rib-cage apart in order to access my heart.

Once the procedure was completed, he pulled my sternum back together and secured it with stainless steel wires – I can still feel under my skin, but thankfully they don’t bother me. Considering the damage done to my sternum, coughing without some sort of support would have been extremely painful – as it was, it was no walk in the park. But I was committed to getting better and getting out of the hospital and back home, so I walked and coughed whenever the nurses asked me to.

My experience in the deluxe room

On Friday, two days after my surgery, I was transferred to the ward, or a deluxe room, where my wife was allowed to stay with me. This area is still meant for high observation, but less than the ICU. I was actually able to walk there myself – it was only down the corridor, on the same floor, but I remember feeling proud to be able to do it.

Once in the room I made more progress each day. I was awake for longer periods of time, went on multiple short walks a day around the floor, and ate solid foods again. The nurses and the ward boys in the hospital did a wonderful job of keeping me as clean as possible. But there is nothing like a feeling of warm shower after almost a week in the hospital. My wife took me home on the morning of March 9th, seven days after my surgery.

My experience at home

Once home, slowly and gradually I started doing lot of things for the first time by myself and they became pretty big milestones. From small things like taking warm shower myself and dressing up. Making my bed. Walking around my building and then outside around mangroves, unsupervised. Then graduating to lay dinner table and wipe the table clean after meals. The process of getting back to normal was marked by many different levels of goals and achievements.

On April 1st, I retuned to my Zoom online sessions that I had been taking for over 18 months, during pandemic. I started conducting my morning Empower your Mind sessions. Then did a three day Foundation Course for fresh participants. Today, I am running seventh week post-surgery. I still have soreness in my chest and would at times get overly tired after the online sessions. But my meditation, walks, various stretching exercises and yoga helps me overcome those symptoms.

My children and grandchildren, who live just in adjoining buildings, would often drop in and cheer my spirits up. We would talk, laugh and plan our next vacations or dinner. Many times, the meals and snacks from son’s or daughter’s house would arrive to bring change for my wife and myself. We have still not encouraged other relatives and friends to visit us, to prevent any infection. Number one, my immunity level is low and secondly, there is a Covid scare in the town and the country.

I clearly remember the day, after two weeks of being home, that I went on a walk with my wife in the building compound – maybe 150 metres. The sun was shining, the weather was warm, and my wife was visibly proud of me; it’s one of my favourite memories of that time.

Is there an emotional side of Open-Heart Surgery?

Open heart surgery is one of the most invasive and stressful procedures doctors perform. Emotional side effects of open-heart surgery are to come after the procedure.

In open-heart surgery, the heart is exposed for major repairs, a long incision in the chest is made, the breast bone is broken, and a heart-lung machine is used to pump blood in place of the heart. In my case it was beating heart surgery.  No external pump was used. All of this places great stress on your body. Open heart surgery is not minimally invasive heart surgery.

The emotional side effects of open-heart surgery might surprise you. People who have had open heart surgery report mood changes, as do people close to them. Anxiety and depression are the most commonly experienced emotions after heart surgery. Anxiety can be caused, in part, by worries about possible physical after effects of the surgery. Keep in mind that full recovery from open heart surgery can take up to one year.


Grateful to the Asian Heart Institute and its medical and non-medical staff for taking great professional care, both during pre-operative and post operative time. This hospital is run very professionally, and their billing system is very transparent, though on higher side. But I guess, to maintain the highest standard in medical care and hygiene along with well trained staff, one pays willingly, considering the value for money.


A lot of psychological energy is used in coping with the fears and demands after surgery. Talking with your family and friends can help with the normal emotional ups and downs after surgery. Immediate family must appreciate this social need for patient to spring back to normalcy.


42 thoughts on “My Heart Story: Surgery to Recovery – Part I

  1. Dear pratap God has seen the good that you have done to many by your activities ,interalia ,in mind training .Hence he blessed you with inner strength ! Karna

  2. Your story is very inspiring.I understand, your will power has helped you to bounce back faster to the normal lifestyle.Wishing you all the best.

  3. Dear Pratap
    The trauma of heart surgery can emotionally disturb the human but you seem to remember the entire chronology of the procedure and the convalescence. Greatly relieved that you are now close to normalcy. Best wishes
    Lalit Bapna

  4. Pratap bhaisb,
    Very nicely and detailed discription of the entire process. I went through the same procedure a month later at Breach Candy Hospital and came back home two weeks ago.
    Wish I had read your note before my operation it would have given me some inkling as to what is going to be in store for me.
    I am getting better and wish you a speedy recovery .

  5. Your story will inspire lot of people and you are a real mindfulness practitioner that shows your mental strength during such difficult time thanks a ton for sharing such wonderful story.

  6. Mama your story will give courage and fortitude to so many others. It was a joy to read how much you were present for whatever was happening in the moment, perhaps that may be your biggest success. You have shown that you walk the talk! So proud of you and love you .

  7. Captain Mehta, thank you for sharing your story with us. Your incredible recovery is a testimony of your true grit, resilience and self awareness that brought you back to us.

  8. Thank you Captain Mehta for sharing your story with us. Your incredible recovery is a testimony of your true grit, resilience and self awareness that brought you back to us. ❤️

  9. Captain – Thank you for sharing your heart story. I salute your resilience and determination to recover! You have truly shown how we can be changed by our circumstances but refuse to be reduced by it.

  10. Dear Pratap, Admire your tremendous willpower and guts. You are an inspiration for all of us. Hats off to you. Annu and I pray for your speedy recovery. God Bless you all. With Warm Regards from ALL of us.

  11. It was quite a exhaustive and complicated medical procedure carried out. Your positive attitude and will power has helped you to bounce back to normal. Glad you are recuperating and have started your regular routine. Shail ma’am,Nakuul and Prachi are your pillars of strength.
    You are an inspiration Sir .

  12. What a detailed explanation captain sir..
    It’s really inspiring…
    My grandma had undergone same surgery around around same time as your
    She is doing well too..
    She was so far from me at the time of surgery. So I don’t know the details of the procedure…
    Your explanation is so good. Now I can understand her state of mind
    Thanks alot..
    Keep doing well captain

  13. Read the story. Wish for your great health, Pratap. Hope you have resumed meditational activities.
    Let’s connect soon.

    -C.S. Bachhawat

  14. Hi Pratap, very detailed description of the procedures and more importantly the human aspect of how you react or do not, to various ongoing incidents and events. The doctors could advise other future candidates for such procedures to go through your
    account. God bless, keep motivating.

  15. My goodness! I appreciate your will power and spirit more than ever now. More power to you Captain

    1. You are a ray of sunshine and a source of inspiration.
      Thankyou for sharing your story with us. Tells us a lot about accepting and moving on with full dedication & determination & will power.
      Thankyou for this! I hope to resume my sessions with you as soon as possible.

  16. Words escape me Capt. I cannot imagine what you and your family went through. I admire your courage of going through such a major surgery, bouncing back to where you are right now, with the help of the surgeon, his team and all the support of you family. Most of all your seer determination and strength to recover as quickly as you can mindset is remarkable. You are such an inspiration to us.

  17. Sir, Wonderful narrative of the story of your immense willpower and courage, that shall act as an morale booster and guide people encountering similar predicament….informative narrative Sir….Respects to shail Ma’am, Naakul and all family members for being your pillars of strength in your emergent time … Praying for your complete recovery….. Take Care Sir…. Regards.

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