I had this really interesting conversation with my heart surgeon in the hospital a few days after my open-heart surgery. (I’m a journalist. It’s my job to have really interesting conversations with people.) We were talking about how the heart-lung (cardiopulmonary-bypass) machine has made operations such as mine so much easier. (It basically takes over the function of the heart and lungs during surgery, so the heart can be slowed down or stopped to make surgery easier.)
Recently, I was doing some research into long-term side effects of heart surgery and found something I’d never heard of. It’s called “pump head” and is thought to come from using the heart-lung machine. Until recently, it wasn’t even considered a real thing. Patients had complained of “cognitive impairment” for a period of time after surgery that included difficulty paying attention or concentrating, short-term memory issues and other symptoms.
One thing I’d noticed in the eleven weeks since my surgery is that I occasionally would have trouble remembering a specific word. I would eventually remember it, but it would take a few seconds before it popped into my mind. I mostly dismissed it at first, but noticed that it seemed to happen a lot more than it ever did before my surgery. In conversation, I would find myself telling the other person “don’t tell me” when I had trouble finding the word. I figure if I keep forcing myself to remember it, I’ll get better faster.
In the big scheme of things, I consider it minor (especially compared to some other people and their “pump head” symptoms) and presume it will go away over time. Right now, I find it really, um, don’t tell me, interesting. :-)