Heart. This is my pillow. This pillow is mine.

The one you’ve all been waiting for

The Recovery Chronicles #12

AE Stueve
3 min readDec 20, 2020


I’ve spent the last twelve weeks recounting what life has been like for me since my open heart surgery. I like to think that at times what I have written has been heartwarming, other times scary, and maybe even occasionally funny. I hope I’ve taught my readers a few things and I hope I’ve entertained. At the end of the day, that’s all any writer really wants. Now, I thought it might be time for a few photos to really illustrate my experience. They are either ill-thought out selfies I took or photos of me that my wife took. And they speak to my experience in a way my words cannot. To be fair, my words speak to my experience in a way my photographs cannot. So, you know, it’s a give and take sort of thing… or something.


Here are some photos.

BCE. A few days prior to my surgery a wasp stung me just above my left eye. The writer in me thought it was a bad omen.
Close Shave. But I trucked on, shaving my awesome beard because an anesthesiologist told me that if I didn’t, she probably would and I definitely did not want that.
Post-Op. It wasn’t that bad.
Kidding. It totally was. The first time I climbed out of bed and walked to the chair a few steps away was one of the most exhausting experiences of my life.
Food. However, when the doctors gave me a menu and said, “Eat whatever you want, bro!” things started looking up.
Done. Days went by and the tubes and wires were eventually removed and, as far as the hospital and I were concerned, I was, for lack of a better word, done... at least as an inpatient. My recovery was far from over.
One Week. No, not the song everyone claims to hate but really loves, but rather the time between my hospital stay and my first post-op appointment with my surgeon. I was super excited to walk around the hospital all morning for various tests and meetings.
Donuts. I earned this.
Recovery. It takes a lot out of a guy. Watching over a guy recovering clearly takes a lot out of your average cat and dog.
I’m Back! After a little over twelve weeks at home getting better, I went back to work during a time of plague. The boat I ride in is not the same as everyone else’s. There are a few holes but I refuse to let it sink… which is exhausting and in many ways reminds me of that first walk from the hospital bed to the chair.

There you have it, a few choice photos detailing my experience. If you are interested in seeing more of my photography, follow me on Instagram @aestueve where they’re not all selfies or photos of me.



AE Stueve

AE Stueve teaches and writes in Omaha, NE. Check out all of his available work at aestueve.com