pacemaker relocation

I got my pacemaker 6 months ago and have complete resolution of my cardiac problem. No more fainting or dizzy spells, warm hands and feet, etc. I'm thrilled about that!
Unfortunately, I've had continuing problems with the location of the pacemaker -- too close to my shoulder, and the skin over the pacemaker is so thin I never got past the point of pain on the surface. I couldn't wear a bra strap on the left side, seatbelt hurt, couldn't sleep on my left, and any activity involving my left arm (kayaking, backpack, bicycle riding, drying my hair) hurt when my shoulder bumped into my PM.
My EP was very sympathetic to my problem, and while he encouraged me to give it some time to completely heal initially, referred me to a General Surgeon to consult about having it moved to a better location. The surgeon discussed the pros and cons of relocating it under the muscle, versus on top of the muscle but lower down behind thicker breast tissue. We decided to keep it on top of the muscle, but more to the center to get it away from my shoulder, and several inches lower to get it better padded.
I had the surgery two days ago, and so far things are looking good. The electrical leads are long enough that she was able to move it about 2 inches toward the center of my chest (away from my shoulder) and almost 3 inches lower, which offers much more padding. Yesterday was pretty painful (vicodin helped a lot, though made me nauseous), but today I'm only taking Tylenol and feeling much better.
Already I can tell that my shoulder won't run into my PM in it's new location, and there's no visible "lump" due to thin skin. I never minded the lump cosmetically, but the pain was not okay with me. This shouldn't be a problem any longer. She went in through the same incision, so I'll only have one scar.
There is another person on this website who is having her bi-V PM relocated on August 12 due to the same problems I was having. I wonder how common this is?
Anyway, special thanks to Meerkats, AmyMarla and Ela-Girl for information, photographs and support to help me in making the decision to do this! Pacemaker Club is so great, and the people on it are the best! As always, thank you Blake for providing this forum. Take care all and happy pacing, Cathryn


6 Comments

YEAH! Success

by auntiesamm - 2007-07-14 02:07:00

Hi Cathryn - What a great first read this morning! I know this has been bothering you for a while and I am so glad for you to have it resolved. Now you truly can get on with your life. Goes to show that we don't have to "put up" with some of these problems that can be rather easily fixed. Following your story I have often felt my PM and realize if it had been an inch closer to my shoulder I would have experienced some of the same problems. One wouldn't think it could make such a huge difference but you are the proof. Thank you for letting us know all is well! I ask God's continued blessings upon you. Happy pain-free bike-riding, backpacking, kayaking and hair drying!
Sharon

Good news!

by Meerkats - 2007-07-14 05:07:54

Cathryn,

I'm so glad to hear that this has been resolved for you! I know you'll be happier and more comfortable now and able to get back into pain-free activities! I'm glad I could be of some help.

No one likes to go through another surgery, but in the end it will be so much better. Take care and heal quickly!

Pain

by hooimom - 2007-07-14 10:07:43

Cathryn,

I have had pain in my shoulder as well. The doctor said she placed it away from breast tissue for mammorgrams. It does cause a lot of pain because it is so close to the muscle. Did your doctor have any concern about mammograms? I am very curious about that since I have considered having mine moved as well.

Michelle

Congrats!

by tcrabtree85 - 2007-07-15 01:07:02

Oh Cathryn,
I am so happy for you. I know this surgery isn't like the others but it still is a surgery so i'm gonna be the one to tell you to get plenty of rest. Relax a lot and enjoy those movies. I pray that the recovery process continues to go well for you. Take it easy and just remember we are always here for you. I was so happy to read this today but didn't have time to post earlier. Thinking of you lots take care!
Tammy

I have a question for you.....

by queen_beez - 2007-07-15 06:07:20

sorry I didn't read this until today. I ahve not been feeling well but thats a whole other issues. I have had pain at my PM site since the day it was implanted. My skin is very thin and at surgery I stated to him to please lower it where it was looser. Aftr it was over it was still in a taunt area. I can't wear a seatbelt without irratation.I can not put my bra strap over it ,I have to keep moving it. As well as sleeping on my left side. I have to position a pillow under the area and even then I can only stay on that side for a short time. I have talked to my doctor and he doesnt understand why i am still in pain. My PMhas been checked as well as my heart and all is well on that front. How do I get my doc to listen to me in respect to post surgery pain at the site. If one touches the skin at the site one can actaully feel the corner of the PM.If I do any activity it just moves around and feels like it rubbing from the inside out. I want this part to be down as every other aspect of the PM is getting easier to deal with as time goes by. Thanks for any help and i hope you get better real soon.
I really hope this was your "fix".
Susan

Thank you and mammograms

by CathrynB - 2007-07-15 10:07:03

Hey Sharon, Meerkats, Michelle and Tammy,
Thank you so much for your good wishes and reminder (Tammy) to take it easy even though this is less invasive surgery since no leads were involved. Three days post op I'm feeling pretty good, but still sore. The bandage comes off later today. Already I'm able to wear a bra with TWO straps and my shoulder doesn't run into the PM when I move my arm -- yippeeee!

Michelle, I did discuss mammograms with the surgeon. She required me to have a mammogram the week before surgery so things will be fully healed before next years mammogram. She's a General Surgeon who specializes in surgeries involving breast tissue (not an EP) and says it will be safe to have mammograms in the future. My PM is placed on top of the muscle, but completely behind the breast tissue, not within it. The mammogram technician tells me they will use slightly less compression to make sure they do not damage the electrical leads, but otherwise, it is the same. It's too early to tell for sure, but I think I'll be really thrilled with the results of this surgery, and glad I did it even though I was reluctant to have a second surgery only 6 months later. Let me know if you decide to pursue re-location surgery, Michelle.
Take care all, and thanks again, Cathryn

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Member Quotes

I'm 35 and got my pacemaker a little over a year ago. It definitely is not a burden to me. In fact, I have more energy (which my husband enjoys), can do more things with my kids and have weight because of having the energy.