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You have described a situation I found myself in about twelve years ago but with five months of intensive care ten operations and a year in rehab. A year afterwards I was admitted to the Royal Marsden Hospital in London with cancer of the tonsil and palette having been on a ventilator for many weeks following the MRSA to my sternum. I received treatment for a year then was monitored for five years. Now at the age of 76 I can say that I have been able to live with the loss of my sternum albeit with considerable difficulty including two unsuccessful operations to rectify the loss of my sternum. I lost my wife of fifty years in 2006 with cancer of the pancreas which was swift and unexpected. I know how you feel and how extremely awesome and impossible every task appears. Once you accept that you are no longer the person you lived with all your life but a mere shadow of your former self. When you recognize the strengths and weaknesses you still have together with all the changes in outlook and ability to manage the basic necessities of life the healing process will begin. It will not be a rapid process but although slowly, with courage and tenacity, having experienced what you have come through and survived you will find a life that is full of pleasure from being alive and waking each day to a new morning and thank the Almighty Creator for the life you have been blessed to enjoy.

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Thank You! I have been married for 30 yrs (2/16/1984) and I could not have gone thru this without her, and thank God every day for my wife and for alowing me to live!!
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Our wives indeed are our strength......if you look at the sternectomy support site you will see an email I received about (or aboot [Canadian eh}) artificial sternums ....not for me and as Robert said I thank God for every day I get......three new grandchildren since sternectomy so now have four....my source of joy
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here is a cut and paste of that post

I recieved a call at 1:30 this morning from a VERY excited Linda and to day this email



"Dear Greg Heenan: This is Linda Reel. Wife of Donald Reel. We last corresponded last year regarding my husband's sterum removal such as yourself. Mr. Heeman, are you setting down. I have the best Christmas gift that God can give you. Dr. Adkins and Dr. David at Travis AFB in Fairfield, Ca. just operated on Donald. They did a sterum reconstruction, yes you heard right! And he's recurperating. And he was only in the hospital "4 days" and for 6 weeks he's to not lift or drive. But listen to this: If he wants to he can actually jump from a airplane, yes indeed. He has 4 titantium plates with a total of 39 bolts attaching his ribs to plates. There is Finally H O P E and for those of you who are not veterans Dr. Adkins and Dr. David perform this operation at Davis, California. Please I know you can be more informative than I so please pass the word. I am to happy to be able to give this information to all of you. Dr. Adkins is waiting for you to contact him. I told him all about you. God bless him. Now their is hope at the end of the tunnel. I'm not very intelligent but I know you are so you are the "chosen one" lead all of those who are in pain to the "HEALER". I know this well be the best Christmas you've had in a long time. God Bless you Greg Heenan. "

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My husband had his artery replaced last November using a less invasive "J" cut. The morning after surgery an x-ray tech came in to his room and was very rough and fractured the other side of the "J" on his breast bone horizontally between the 3 & 4th rib. The wires subsequently broke and chewed up the bone leaving very little actual bone. The surgeon then when in and installed metal plates trying to hold it steady enough to try and get at least a soft fusion. However it was not successful, so as a result they went back in and remove the bone, about 4MM, between the 3 & 4th ribs. His surgeon says he will be able to lift 75 lbs. My question to you is how much of your breastbone did they remove?
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100 % of mine was taken along with connective tissue to the ribs .....(coastal cartilage connects the ribs to the sternum) as the staph infection was invading it all

I have been told that due to the extent and necessity of removal a prosthetic sternum is out of the question and a pectoral flap created  

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I had Dr. David and Dr. Adkins too. Ended up in a full sternectomy thanks to their combined lack of judgement. They butchered me, gave me a terrible infection, and tried an new surgical approach without my permission. Quite a different result. Guess you were the lucky one, but don't go praising incompetence because you were simply fortunate.
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I hope this will be good news for you. My husband also doesn't have a sternmun .
Dr. Akins at Travis AFB reconstructed his chest with 4 titanium strips with bolts attached to replace is sterumn . Since my husbands surgery Dr. Akins is now at Davis College. I hope and pray this will be your miracle. Linda

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Just found out that the bair warming and cooling blanket may have caused all of our infections check into it ,I for sure am
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I've had the same thing happened to me. And I'm still struggling with the removal of my sterum. 

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One of my best friends just had a large part of his sternum removed, he's still in the hospital he had a staff infection. He doesn't even know what's in store for him once he gets out of the hospital, besides physical therapy.
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Hello Jack,
I see that you wrote this a year ago but thought I would take a chance to connect with you regarding a friend of mine. Your situation sounds very similar to hers, and I wonder if we can learn anything from each other? She has recently discovered the possibility of the bypass machine may have had something to do with her infections. Not sure yet but if I don't hear back from you than you should check with an attorney regarding the 3-D Heater Cooler they used in your operating room.
Hope your still doing as well as can be expected.
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i too have had my sternum removed. ribs are always shifting, popping and cracking. being a woman it's a whole bunch of issues with bras.
would be interested in speaking to someone who also has this. it's very painful too.
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I am a 59 year old male, I had my sternum removed in May of 2017 due to cancer. No, its no walk in the park. But, I'm able to do more than I could than if I were dead! I don't even try to lay on my side post surgery... (alabi the hole they carved in my chest to get all the cancer was the size of an adult human head)... 25 lbs is about the max Ill try to lift, and that depends on the size of the package... the larger it is the less I want to try it. My golf swing, has been reduced from a full powerhouse swing to that of a chip shot.. There are some movements my arms and shoulders just wont do after surgery, but I suspect my case may be unique.... I can still cast a fly rod... shoveling snow off the drive is out of the question... That just puts so much stress on me at the bottom of my ribs where im still connected I don't want it... Its hard to describe, but twisting torso is something you learn to avoid... & Breathing is often the issue... as long as I'm not exerting myself im fine, walking, (I can attend a boat show and walk a mile, enjoying the displays) etc, no prob, but to say, vacuum the front room carpet, that will spend my oxygen reserve quickly, and I may want to sit and catch my breath b4 Im done ... While There are cautions Ive had to employ, and a new "Limit" that goes with my day... I'm not regretting having done it.
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Have you in my prayers. You are very strong. Stay strong.
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