New pacemaker


I had a pacemaker fitted on Thursday in Edinburgh. Due to complications with sedation, I had the operation under local anaesthetic. I felt such a hero. For about two hours, I felt great. And then the anaesthetic wore off.

The pain at the side and down my left arm is horrendous. I am not able to lie down and have to sleep sitting up, which is not something I find easy. 
I also from time to time can feel a heartbeat. Sometimes two or three. My surgeon said that I will be able to feel a pacemaker, but on my brain screen it out fairly soon.
I would appreciate any any help or experiences and a heartbeat.

So glad to have found this group




by Penguin - 2023-09-23 14:35:02

Hi Tosca and Welcome, 

You were certainly very brave to have your first PM put in with just a local anaesthetic. I’ve had two PMs and had sedation on top of a local for both. The first is the worst because they do more ‘work’ on you, creating a pocket for the PM to sit in etc. 

To be fair, once the sedation wears off most people feel some pain or suffer swelling, bruising at the implant site.  I can no longer remember the first implant but I’m so sorry to hear about your post-operative pain, it sounds awful. I’m hoping it will settle down for you as mainly people can manage any pain with OTC pain killers.  Keep an eye on it, but expect some soreness initially. 

Re: ‘ I feel a heartbeat now and again’ - I assume you mean that you can feel the device pacing you and it’s new and unusual?  It does feel a bit different - usually a bit faster and often more intense and this takes a little bit of getting used to.  

I agree with your doctor that after some time your brain will stop reminding you that the PM is there. It takes a little time for that to happen, so expect to spend some time acquainting yourself with the new lump under your skin and all that it can do for you. 

Please post if there’s anything you’d like help or advice with. 
Best Wishes

sleep position

by new to pace.... - 2023-09-23 16:49:55

For the first couple of weeks, i slept on my back in my recliner.  Do remember  to keep moving your left arm gently.  Do not raise it above your shoulder and  not lift anything heavy with it.

If you have any questions do write them  down and  when you return to have your stiches removed you should ask  and tell your doctor your concerns.

new to pace

Hi Pam

by Lavender - 2023-09-23 19:06:44

I can't imagine having my pacemaker inserted with only local anesthesia. 😵‍💫I don't want to see or know what's going on. Lol

My biggest long term complaint was my left arm and neck. It really pained me for months. Tylenol 650 helped some as recommended when I left the hospital. Ice helped more. Using an ice pack with a towel between it and my skin brought comfort. Twenty minutes on and twenty minutes off. I also propped my left arm up a lot of the time. 

Sleeping was a real adventure for a while. I used lots of pillows to hold my body on the right side-a pillow behind my back, a body pillow in front between the knees, and a small pillow leaning against the pacemaker. I did not sleep sitting up because that hurts my tailbone. 

How you feel now is not how it will always be. In time, when you dr okays it, see a therapeutic masseuse. I did that and eventually she got my arm to be painfree. 

You will feel all kinds of weird sensations as you heal. Your heart is adjusting to having wires screwed into it. It's not happy. You can feel stronger beats or PVCs. Once you go for your pacemaker adjustment in about a month, they can adjust your settings so you're more comfortable. 

Local or general

by piglet22 - 2023-09-24 09:46:17

Hi Lavender.

Many more operations are being done with locals or nerve blocks. Personally, I really don't like the idea of being knocked out which probably goes back to early years at the so-called dentist who working on her own would whip out the mask and that;s the last you knew about it.

Not so much as do you mind.

Both my pacemaker ops were done under local and although I'm not a fan of having anything done, both were really straightforward and you were well looked after. Choice of music on the first one and home on the bus a few hours later on the second. Never offered a sedative.

A good friend of mine elected to have a DVP (Distal Volar Plate) fitted on their badly broken wrist done with a nerve block.

I watch a lot of hospital documentries and many more ops are done with nerve blocks for safety, feedback from the patient and more pressure to get people up and about and off home.

It's possible that getting going quickly might ease post op discomfort.


by Lavender - 2023-09-24 11:41:07


I have had finger surgery with a nerve block and IV sedation. My pacemaker wasn't done with general. It was Versed and fentanyl along with local. I think it's called light sedation. I don't want to hear or see anything, although if I closed my eyes and listened to meditation tapes, I think I would be fine. 

At my dental offices, we did have for use nitrous oxide (laughing gas) on people for a time. Not many wanted it. Then it became illegal to use it without an anesthesiologist present. 

The only time that I had general anesthesia was for gallbladder surgery. My heart stopped and I ended up in intensive care, the beginning of my heart pauses. I hope to never have general anesthesia again. 😉

It gets better

by Gotrhythm - 2023-09-24 14:10:40

Sorry you're having a hard time. But, really, this isn't forever. It does get better. The day will come when you give no more thought to your pacemaker than you do your elbow.

In the meantime, Lavendar has suggested ice, but an orthopedic surgeon recently told me that once the incision is healed, heat is really better. According to him heat aids the body in reabsorbing the swelling and bruising in surrounding tissues.

Also, although it's natural to want to protect and keep a part that hurts still, do make sure you move your shoulder and arm to prevent "frozen shoulder." Slow and gentle movement is the key, raising the arm a little higher each day. Several short sessions daily are better than one longer session.

Hang in there.

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The experience of having a couple of lengths of wire fed into your heart muscle and an electronic 'box' tucked under the skin is not an insignificant event, but you will survive.