December 4, 2020
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Open heart surgery – Thoughts from the other side

By: Steven Campbell
February 15, 2019

After driving home from speaking in Silicon Valley late last year, I saw Mary walking our dog to the park a few blocks from our house. I stopped to join her and casually mentioned that my left arm was hurting. Mary had a tizzy fit! We discovered that my blood pressure was very high, so we saw my primary physician at Kaiser the next morning, who gave me eight different blood tests and a stress test all of which turned out fine.I was still jogging up the mountain behind our house. However, the echocardiogram revealed that my heart was regurgitating half my blood in the wrong direction due to a leaky mitral valve. So I had open heart surgery on the morning of Jan. 3 at the Kaiser Cardiac Center in San Francisco. Open heart surgery involves sawing your sternum in two, opening up your chest and then plugging your heart into a Heart-Lung machine to stop it so the Cardiac surgeon can do the repairs. They then take you to ICU that same day, with a lot of tubes and wires going in and out of your body. After seeing that everything is fine, they transfer you to the Cardiac Unit the next day and begin removing the tubes and stuff. So in the evening of the second day, after checking all my vitals and wires, my RN informed me that he was taking me for my first walk! 

I looked at him as if tarantulas were coming out of his eyes! “WHAT DO YOU MEAN? A WALK?” “I mean exactly that.  Let me get some slippers for you and we’ll take a walk down the hall.” My brain screamed, “No! I can’t! I’m still hurting! I just want to lie in bed! I just had a five-hour surgery yesterday for goodness sakes!  Are you crazy?” My protests fell on deaf ears, as the RN smilingly sat me up, gently pulled my legs over to the side of the bed and got a walker I still looked at him again as if he was crazy! And then it happened. AND IT ALL STARTED IN MY BRAIN! “If my RN thinks I can walk, then I guess I can.” When my feet touched the floor of Room 2119B on Jan. 5 at the Kaiser Cardiac Center in San Francisco, SOMETHING HAPPENED IN MY MIND. I found my legs stiffening up and my body standing. I then took one step, and realized I could take another. Then another. Then another. Before you knew it, I was walking down to the nurse’s station and then back again! AND IT ALL STARTED WITH MY BRAIN SAYING I COULD, AND THEN TAKING THAT FIRST STEP! In a couple of days I was walking to the end of the hall, around the corner, and back again, three times a day.  When I walked up eight stair steps, I got to come home. 

Some thoughts from the other side

To be honest, it would have been SO much easier to simply stay in bed. I was still coming down from the anesthesia and feeling wonderful. The Kaiser staff monitors your pain threshold very carefully to make sure you are not in pain. My room looked out onto the hills of San Francisco so I could sit there and enjoy the view.  Why in the world would I want to get up and walk? But dear reader, lying on your bed is not where the healing takes place. The healing in your heart and in your mind begins when you get up and take that first step, and then another, and then another, and then you begin walking, no matter how old you are, or where you are in life! And it is the same in life. Healing doesn’t take place by sitting down and being comfy. The healing takes place when you get up and begin to move again!  


Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent.” His seminar “Taming Your Mind, Unleashing Your Life” is now available on line at  For more information, call Steven Campbell at 707-480-5507