A new arrival!

Hi all - just about 2 days out from my implantation (10/23). A little backstory: my team's been following me for a few years as we waited for pacemaker time (bradycardia + sick sinus syndrome + a few structural abnormalities, all congenital).  I could feel that everyday things were getting harder, so I did a 30-day monitor earlier this year to get more data (and a cardiac MRI to get images of the structural things for my EP).  The whole team agreed it was time.  So it was no surprise but nonetheless a big step to get my pacer at age 38.

(I should add that finding this group and lurking a bit helped me a LOT as I prepared for the big day.  Y'all are amazing.)

I've seen a frankly amazing relief of symptoms, some of which I was hardly even aware of (since I'd never lived without them), even though I'm definitely adjusting.  Life's different at 60 bpm after hovering around 44!  My main source of discomfort is a tight left arm & shoulder - the incision's sore, of course, but that's not what's really hurting!  So, a question: is it ok to use heat on the *back* of my arm/neck, safely away from the incision?  Or better not to?



by Good Dog - 2023-10-26 08:24:04

I am so glad you found us! You and I have quite a bit in common even though I am about 37 years older than you! I too have the same congenital issues as you! I had a 1st degree congenital AV Block and occasionally had episodes of passing-out when very young. It suddenly turned to a complete block about 2 weeks after turning 38. One of the biggest differences between us is the advances in the training, knowledge and technology you may have benefited from. I'll give you the good news and the bad news relative to getting a PM at age 38. First the good news; you have a new and beautiful life ahead of you! You now have the opportunity to live it to the fullest without worry about your condition. The bad news; There isn't any! Well, if you consider it to be bad news that you will have the routine check-ups, remote pacer interrogations and generator changes every 8-10 years, then I guess that is the only bad news I know of. However, I see that as a small price to pay for the benefits a PM provides.

As far as using heat (or ice) a safe distance away from your incision, I see no problem. However, I am sure you know that is a question best answered by your Doc. 

You seem to be well versed given that this was not a big surprise and your advance planning. That is great! Welcome to our club! I hope you hang-around and even get involved answering questions and helping-out into the future. Certainly, someday you will have years of experience behind you and will have a lot to offer others like yourself.

Enjoy your life! I wish you nothing but the very best!




by klmcshane - 2023-10-26 08:30:49

Thanks, Dave!  You're right about the technology changes - it's been amazing, even in just the time I've been monitored.  I remember my first Holter monitor coming with a backpack (which was certainly a fashion choice back in middle school).  I was astonished when the 30-day monitor showed up in an envelope and was smaller than my cell phone.  Appreciate the welcome & well wishes!


Yes welcome

by Gemita - 2023-10-26 14:40:44

I see Dave has already given you a warm welcome.  Your post sounds so positive about your new pacemaker and I am really glad that you feel you are already benefitting from it. 

I also have sick sinus syndrome and suffered from long sinus pauses, tachycardia, bradycardia and syncope episodes before my pacemaker.  Although my first few months were a bit rough as I started my pacing journey when I experienced more in the way of palpitations than before my pacemaker, my heart soon settled as it got used to pacing at a nice, steady, higher heart rate of 70 bpm.  My heart is much quieter these days and doesn’t seem to be dancing around quite so much although I still need to take a beta blocker to control my heart rate when I experience tachycardia events, which of course are not controlled by a pacemaker.  

I found “warmth” very soothing to ease my aches and pains during the healing period following my implant in 2018.  I had quite a bit of bruising and swelling around the device and my doctors recommended ice packs wrapped in cloth and placed for a few minutes at a time and moved around to help with swelling and pain.  Perhaps a combination of warmth and icing might help. 

Keep your wound dry (7-10 days) and don’t use soap, creams, lotions on the area of the wound until it is completely closed, healed.  Wound stitches are usually dissolvable and will disappear on their own.  

Hopefully you were given details of how to care for your wound and to watch for any discharge, unusual swelling or worsening inflammation around your wound and report any changes immediately since infection is something that we should all watch out for and report immediately.  However some swelling and inflammation will be perfectly normal.

It is important to keep your shoulder mobile by gently moving your arm on the side of the pacemaker and you should continue with this light exercise to prevent the development of a condition called frozen shoulder which can occur from immobility of your shoulder joint.

I hope you are finding your way around this site, but please let us know if you need any help or advice.  

Thanks, Gemita!

by klmcshane - 2023-10-26 14:48:20

This is both so kind and so helpful, and I appreciate you sharing how it went for you!  I got great instructions on care (I'll admit I'm really looking forward to a shower once I'm allowed), but somehow I wasn't expecting the neck and shoulder to be more uncomfortable than the incision site.  I also didn't realize just how many things I do with my left hand that I have to swap sides for, at least for a little while!

I'm keeping a careful eye on things - definitely some swelling but improving day by day.  I had a bit of a scare when I noticed a bruise that I hadn't seen at first/when the pressure dressing came off, but luckily my partner has been helping me keep an eye on the site and could reassure me that it had been there the whole time.  Phew.

Use that left arm!

by atiras - 2023-10-26 16:38:10

You can continue to do everything you're used to doing with you left hand as long as you don't raise your elbow above your shoulder or twist your elbow behind your back. In fact you must continue using that arm almost normally or you will get 'frozen shoulder' which is very painful and difficult to recover from.

Left arm!

by klmcshane - 2023-10-26 16:44:50

Doing what's possible while not lifting anything above my 5-10lb limit!  My poor cat doesn't quite understand why I won't pick her up, haha.

Hi, Schultzpeg!

by klmcshane - 2023-11-05 21:27:06

I'm a bit further out now and still doing well - still a little soreness & bruising, but that's minor and getting better by the day.  Surgical glue is taking its darn time flaking off, but we'll get there.  And soon I'll be clear to lift that 12 pound kitty!

That shower will be great when you get there!!  Mine sure was!

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