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Thread: How Soon After Surgery for Airplane Flight?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    120

    Default How Soon After Surgery for Airplane Flight?

    I'm sure many people have had to fly somewhere else to get surgery. How soon after surgery did you fly and did you experience any problems?

    I may be a little ahead of myself here, but I don't think so. I had a TEE done and a surgeon told me I need surgery now. I want to have Dr. Ryan in Dallas do Port Access surgery, but I'm having trouble getting the place that did my TEE to send him what he needs to make a decision. After some very stressful moments on the phone with them today I hope I have the CD on its way.

    I'm in Colorado and had planned for my husband, kids and I to fly from DIA to DFW, about an hour and a half flight. The plan is to fly in on Sunday, have a doctor visit on Monday, surgery on Tuesday, then fly back again the following Sunday. There are issues with my husband's work (he has next to no time available) and I will be more comfortable recovering in my own home. My husband will do all the lifting and get me a wheelchair for cruising around the airport.

    Has anyone done something similar?
    KatieD
    MV Repair 06/19/07 Presby Dallas Dr. Wm. Ryan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    2,037

    Default

    I would suggest talking to the surgeon about that time frame. Some have requirements about sticking around for follow up, and some are fine with follow up being done at home. I did my VR in Houston (I'm in DFW) and ended up staying in Houston a week after I got out of the hospital (which was a 9 day stay due to starting coumadin). However, I was staying at my mother's, and drove to/from, so that made things easier.

    I did have ICD surgery in March up at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. I was told I could fly back home as soon as I wanted to. That would have been the day after they released me if there had been any flights available, but instead ended up being three days after release (which was 4 days after surgery). I think each case is individual. And something I've learned this year is this: We make plans, and God laughs. Just because you plan your trip to start and end on certain dates does not mean it will happen. But the best way to get a good estimate is by talking to the surgeon.

    Good luck!
    Niki (33) complex CHD, mechanical tricuspid valve, bi-v ICD...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    near Fort Worth TX
    Posts
    5,974

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    Katie:

    Best to schedule your return trip several days after you think you'll leave the hospital, to allow for any of the usual complications after surgery.

    John was told to expect a 4- to 6-day hospital stay. I scheduled the surgery for a Thursday, hoping I could be back at work Tuesday or Wednesday. He developed an arrhythmia, which bought him a couple of extra days in the hospital. So, I would allow a couple of extra days' cushion time.

    I don't think the flight per se will be a problem. Do ask the airline (I assume you'd be on United or American from DEN to DFW) for a wheelchair. You may NOT need it, but hey, you deserve a little TLC. I would probably book a bulkhead seat, so you'd have room to stretch your legs. It's not that long of a trip, thank heavens.
    If your husband & kids need to fly home ahead of you, TSA & airline regs do allow for a non-flying family member to escort you to the gate. The airline will give you paperwork & a pass to get through the security checkpoint. The pass is marked for a non-passenger; you won't be able to board a plane.

    BTW, we're going to Presby next Monday for John's post-op checkup.
    Marsha (7-28-50), MVP 1990/MVR (St. Jude) & ASD repair 6/24/03 Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas Texas. Hometesting since 11/03, first with ProTime 3, now with INRatio.
    John (3-13-46), MV repair 5/10/07, Dallas Presbyterian, port-access incision, Dr. William Ryan. Chordae ruptured 12/05 in car crash.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    2,037

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rachel_howell
    With all due respect to Catwoman: while I can't argue with the logic of the above advice, you would be amazed how badly you will want to get home as soon as you can and what you are willing to go through to do it.
    But her point wasn't how fast you'd want to get home (everyone wants home as soon as possible). It was that you might not be able to get home when you THINK you can. No matter what they estimate, there's no guarantee that things will go exactly as planned. I had to change my flight out from Rochester because my length of stay ended up being longer than we expected. That's all she's pointing out.
    Niki (33) complex CHD, mechanical tricuspid valve, bi-v ICD...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    120

    Default

    Thanks for your replies and advice on flying. I definitely know that life doesn't always meet the schedules we want to keep. When I talk to the surgeon, I will ask him his opinion about flying. I'm waiting until after I talk to him to book my flight.

    We will probably fly Frontier, it depends on the price. It's great for the kids because they love the little tv's on the backs of the seats!
    KatieD
    MV Repair 06/19/07 Presby Dallas Dr. Wm. Ryan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    South Bend, IN
    Posts
    172

    Default

    Hi,

    I flew home from Minnesoto to Florida 6 days after my surgery and 1 day after I was realeased from the hospital. Best of luck.

    brad
    Ross Procedure, Dr. Quintessenza, All Children's Hospital, St. Petersburg, FL -- 9/12/2000

    Aortic Root and Valve Replacement with 23 mm Homograft, Dr. Joseph Dearani, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN -- 12/7/2006

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    near Fort Worth TX
    Posts
    5,974

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gnusgal
    But her point wasn't how fast you'd want to get home (everyone wants home as soon as possible). It was that you might not be able to get home when you THINK you can. No matter what they estimate, there's no guarantee that things will go exactly as planned. I had to change my flight out from Rochester because my length of stay ended up being longer than we expected. That's all she's pointing out.
    Niki:
    You are right!
    We usually want to be home about day 4. But sometimes things just don't work out that way -- infections, arrhythmias, etc., etc.
    Prepare for the unexpected, hope for the best -- that's my motto.
    Marsha (7-28-50), MVP 1990/MVR (St. Jude) & ASD repair 6/24/03 Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas Texas. Hometesting since 11/03, first with ProTime 3, now with INRatio.
    John (3-13-46), MV repair 5/10/07, Dallas Presbyterian, port-access incision, Dr. William Ryan. Chordae ruptured 12/05 in car crash.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Jacksonville, FL
    Posts
    557

    Default

    I flew home 6 days after my surgery. My wife made arrangements for a wheel chair upon our arrival at the airport. Good thing because it would have taken a long time to walk through the airport. I was still taking baby steps and would get out of breath easily.

    That was the first time I had been in a wheel chair in other than a hospital. My wife told airport TSA that I just had open heart. They were all very gentle and careful not to cause me any discomfort during my screening. My flight was only an hour so it was not bad. Fortunately the diuretic I taken a couple of hours before the flight started to wear off.

    The only minor problem was the atttendant wheeling me to the curb. My wife went to get our luggage and car. I did not think to tell him I just had open heart. We went across one of those strips used to protect wires when it goes across the carpet . He was going a little too fast. My chest started to hurt. It hurt as bad as if I had coughed or sneezed. I was too out of breath to tell him to slow down.

    Karl
    Replacement of bi-cuspid aortic valve with severe stenois, and repair of ascending aortic aneurysm at age 47 by Dr. James Kirklin
    March 16, 2005. University of Alabama Hospital-Birmingham.
    St. Judes Mechanical valve

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    120

    Default

    This is all great information, thanks. It really helps to know I am not doing something out of the ordinary and to know what pitfalls to watch out for. The only other problem I might have is that it is a 2 hour drive to get home once we land at the airport. However, we have a very comfortable van and I can arrange the seat back and arm rests in any way that's comfortable. We also have the option of staying the night at a hotel if I'm feeling overly tired at that point.

    I will ask the doctor's office whether or not this particular hospital has any such arrangements for flights after surgery. That would sure be a big relief.
    KatieD
    MV Repair 06/19/07 Presby Dallas Dr. Wm. Ryan

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    North Alabama
    Posts
    6,910

    Default

    You mentioned that your husband has virtually no time off available. That raised a Red Flag.

    The Federal Government passed the Family Leave Act that ensures a family member up to some number of days they can take off to care for a family member. Look into it if you need some leverage.

    If his concern is about possibly missing some work defined deadline or scheduled event, that is another issue...

    Several of our members have flown home after their surgery. ChristinaL comes to mind (Cleveland Clinic back to Colorado....difficult trip as I recall).

    'AL Capshaw'

  11. #11
    Bill Hall Guest

    Default

    I had my surgery in Cleveland and my stay was extended. United Airlines was very understanding and allowed me to postpone my return for three days. Walking to the gate and flying back was uneventful. We stayed at home and then drove for 5 hours to NC.
    Bill

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    120

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ALCapshaw2
    You mentioned that your husband has virtually no time off available. That raised a Red Flag.

    The Federal Government passed the Family Leave Act that ensures a family member up to some number of days they can take off to care for a family member. Look into it if you need some leverage.

    If his concern is about possibly missing some work defined deadline or scheduled event, that is another issue...
    My husband has only been an employee with the company since February 2007 so he is not eligible for FMLA, but that is not really the issue. He has earned a few days leave since he started, but does not really want to start off his employment asking for extra time. And since we'll be paying for plane tickets for 4 and a hotel room for several nights we don't really want to go without his full paycheck!
    KatieD
    MV Repair 06/19/07 Presby Dallas Dr. Wm. Ryan

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Tucson Az.(warm country)
    Posts
    1,912

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    I flew home about 9 days after my surgery. From San Lose Cal to Tucson Az. I did ok after the surgeon told me that I could go. I did have them put me in
    a wheel chair because the air port were so big and alot of walking. You should do fine don't let yourself worry about getting home.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    DFW, TX
    Posts
    511

    Default

    I would have had hurt feelings that my sister wants to run back home so quickly and not spend time here with me - if we hadn't spent so much time together lately due to heart surgeries. First our brother had mitral valve replacement in Oklahoma City on 09/30/06 - then I had my mitral valve surgery in Dallas on 02/21/07. Now her upcoming surgery. I guess she wants to get away from here so she can concentrate on herself!!!
    Mitral Valve Prolapse/Regurgitation
    MV Repair, Port Access, 02/21/07 by Dr William Ryan, Presby Hosp, Dallas

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