Heart pillows help reduce pain for cardiac patients
Open heart surgery is a major procedure with a long and painful recovery time. Even normal everyday activities like sneezing, laughing, and coughing can become painful. The recovery time, after the surgery, is especially critical. Patients are asked to cough and breathe deeply, to clear their lungs, in order to lower the risk of pneumonia or other respiratory issues. Pamela Kane, PT, MA Director of Rehabilitation at Methodist Hospital Texsan explained “When a patient holds the heart pillow tightly against his or her chest, the pillow provides an extra layer of pressure to counteract any jolting from a cough, sneeze or movement. It helps reduce pain because it holds the incision and sensitive skin surrounding the incision firmly in place.”
The pillows at Methodist Healthcare facilities have been made, with love, by the Blue Bird Auxiliary volunteers. Volunteer Lynelle Stigent works on sewing these pillows together with a team of volunteers, and can deliver about 30 pillows a month to Methodist Hospital Texsan alone. Lynelle has shared the steps on how you can DIY this pillow at home, for a loved one who may have gone through open heart surgery.
Here are the items you’ll need:
Scissors, thread, needles (pins and sewing), 2 types of fabric, fiber fill: Poly-fil, pattern (optional).
The first step is to get your supplies and to pick out the fabrics and cotton thread of your choice. The Blue Birds team usually select a cotton fabric that is colorful and has a pattern or print for the front of the pillow. The fabric on the back of the pillow is usually a softer material, such as fleece or flannel, which would be comfortable to against the incision.
Cut out one heart shape for the front panel of the pillow and one for the back panel. The heart measures 22-inch wide and 19-inch high. Depending on the width of your fabric you could get up to two pillows out of one yard of 44-inch wide cotton fabric. Fleece is typically 60-inches wide, and you could get up to 4 back pieces with a single yard of fabric.
Sew the front and back pieces together, with either a sewing machine or by hand, leaving a 4-inch opening for stuffing.
Stuff the pillow with about 3/4 of a bag of fiber fill. The Blue Bird volunteers use Poly-fil because it is a premium polyester fiber fill. Just make sure not to over stuff. You want the pillows to be soft and have a little give.
Lastly, hand sew the 4-inch hole shut, so the filling won’t come out.
Thank you to the Blue Bird Auxiliary and their committed dedication to our patients at all Methodist Healthcare facilities. The Blue Birds are celebrating their 100th year of volunteering throughout the Methodist Healthcare System. Established in 1920, the Blue Birds aim to accomplish: service to others, selflessness, and fellowship. The Blue Birds are always looking for volunteers, and with over 30 areas of service you can find an opportunity that will make a difference in our community. Learn more about what the Blue Birds do.
To learn more about heart health, and to take our heart risk assessment please visit SAHealth.com/heart.