My one year anniversary. Struggling with Depression.

Hello All!

I have not been back here since about four or five weeks after surgery. I was so determined to 'bounce back' - and let's face it, the medical fraternity (is it still a 'fraternity') don't exactly counsel you on what you have been through they just process you on the assembly line and usher you out the door with a 'you'll feel better than ever'...

 

And, tbh i feel no different. I was not 'sick' before my first cyncope. I just nearly fainted on the way to work one day and then fainted a few hours later at work. And again, three more times in emergency. And then...went 48 hours waiting for my pacemaker implant...with no real contact with anyone beyond "this is what happened, and this is what we are going to do to you.". 

 

I have bradycardia, apparently. It's congenital, apparently. And now I'm 'good as new' apparently. 

 

But...geeze louise, bouncing back is good in one respect (I know I did it mainly to stop my loved ones from worrying) but now, I find myself applying for travel insurance and finding it doubles because of the pacemaker. So does life insurance. APPARENTLY I'M SICK??? Apparently I'm a risk? Why didn't someone tell me? I was told it was common and that I was fine. 

 

I do think I am fine, but the whole 'mortality thing' really plays on me now. I'm 57. Two marriages (both long term) done and dusted. My kids are grown. I have so many things on my bucket list but also have to think of my financial future cos I'm single. And..well...I'm scared. 

I don't admit this to anyone, lest I make them scared. And there's nothing worse than people fussing over you. Mind you, if I was loved up right now with someone who was kind and good and caring, I guess I wouldn't mind a LITTLE fuss made. 

Strong. For all my life. 

And now I'm having a depressive episode. My one year anniversary is on March 15. So I'm here. Hoping someone will read this and relate. Or say "I was there but then I snapped out of it and you will too" Or someone just wants to chat. That would be groovy. 

Yours lovingly

 

Rose


7 Comments

Depression is hard

by Theknotguy - 2019-03-09 08:05:24

The depression part is hard.  No question about it.  As soon as I could I found a psychologist who specialized in trauma and heart problems.  Spent some time with her.  It really helps to talk with an objective third party.  And it also helps to read through the forum and see what some others are doing.  At least it did for me.  Oh, and your feelings aren't out of line.  A certain percentage of people with heart devices do get depression - not sure of the statistics but they do.  

You can check with your EP/Cardiologist and see if they have a pysch type person with whom you can talk or a help group.  Some hospitals have a  national organization called Mended Hearts - however I had a bad experience with them.  Other hospitals do have help groups.  For some people,  pet therapy is a way to go to.  Can't beat a cold nose and a warm heart.  You can also check with your medical insurance and see if they can recommend some kind of help group.  It just depends what will work for you.  And another thing, getting a physical and having someone go over your diet may help too.  For my wife, a dietitian suggested vitamin D to get rid of the winter blahs and it helped.  

For me, I was retired and doing volunteer work before the pacemaker.  Post pacemaker I went back to the hospital where I was a patient and started doing volunteer work there.  Now I'm pushing out patients post hospital stay.  It works for me maybe not everyone else.  Did a lot of walking with my son's dogs. It's hard to stay depressed when the dogs are doing something goofy and you're laughing too hard to stand up.   

So, yes, your feelings are normal.  There are things that can help.  Hope you can find something soon.  
 

Professional

by dennvi0528 - 2019-03-09 10:50:22

I can relate to much of what you said.  I’ve been healthy, or so I thought, all my life and to find out I needed a pacemaker was a complete shock.  I’ve only had mine for six and a half weeks and I know I need a counselor to talk to so I’m going this Friday.  I’ve never had anxiety or depression and I know I need help.  My coworker had the nerve to say this week that getting a pacemaker is not as bad as many other things and she hopes I never get a cancer diagnosis because she doesn’t know how I would deal with it.  Seriously?  I was very concerned I may have an infection at the time and need to start all over and I’m overreacting?   I’m just saying maybe consider talking to someone, it may help.  Good luck to you.

A couple of thoughts

by Grateful Heart - 2019-03-09 11:08:47

10 years ago when I started this journey, I didn't think I would be here much longer to see my teenage sons grow up and get married and have children.  I kept a brave face for them in the beginning too.  Then I found the more I learned about my condition and device, the more comfortable I became.  Knowledge is power!

Bradycardia as you probably know, means a resting heart rate of under 60 beats per minute.  I don't know how low your HR was but the pacemaker will not let it go below whatever your doctor set it for you (within a few beats). 

As far as insurance goes, of course they are going to increase insurance whenever they can.  On paper, we all have heart conditions....some much worse than others.  You said you didn't feel sick and still don't....that's huge and not everyone feels that good. 

It's normal to be scared in the beginning.  Scared triggers "fight or flight".  I chose to fight.   Take charge of your health going forward.  I have a CRT-D (meaning with defibrillator) and I was sent home without much information too.  I was afraid to move a certain way thinking I might set the defib off.  Then I decided I couldn't live in fear so I read about Cardiac Rehab and asked my doctor if I could go.  It was very helpful and the nurses were great.  I exercised as hard as I could.  My thinking was, if there was going to be a problem with my device, that was the place to be...surrounded by nurses and a crash cart.

My point is....we have to help ourselves.  Change your mindset...instead of dreading your 1 year anniversary of being paced....celebrate it!  Go out to lunch or a show with a friend.  You are still here to enjoy your children.  That is something worth celebrating....at least that is how I looked at it.   

Happy Anniversary!!

Grateful Heart

I'm with you ...

by Snowdog - 2019-03-09 14:45:46

Hi Rose, I really get where you are coming from... I have had my pacemaker since January 2015 due to bradycardia caused by myocarditis. I never fainted or was 'ill' I just kept feeling 'fuzzy' for a few seconds ( although looking back there were other signs in that I would be out of breath walking up hills etc which I thought was just due to being unfit!!) I went to my GP who did an Ekg and sent me to the hospital.  I was admitted to intensive care and my favorite saying was 'but I'm not ill' The end result after many tests was being fitted with a pacemaker.. My hero has been my GP in the early days he would ask how I was and then follow it with ' and in your head?' Whenever I felt strange he would do an EKG and say everything was ok and one day I just broke down and told him how I was struggling with the fact I have a pacemaker.  He has been brilliant and has always listened.  This website has also been good for information.  I don't think I have accepted it but I know that I need it.  Try and stay positive and find someone to confide in.  

Stay strong

snowdog 

Feelings, and pacemakers, and hearts--oh my!

by Gotrhythm - 2019-03-09 17:24:03

Have the settings on your pacemaker ever been tailored to you? Or are is it still running on the default, out-of-the box, one-size-fits-all settings? 

One of the big lessons having a pacemaker has taught me is how much my mental state is dependent on my physical state. And for those of us with pacemakers, our physical state is dependent upon a computer controlled device.

Until I joined the Pacemaker Club, I had only the haziest idea about settings. Through TPC I was encouraged to ask for my base heart rate to be raised to 70 BPM. It was a revelation! The low grade depression that had hung around for years lifted. I felt like "myself" for the first time since I got the pacemaker--like the self I was before the bradycardia.

Something similar happened when my EP, after listening to me carefully, made Response Rate more sensitive. Why being able to move more quickly should make me feel generally "happier" I don't know, but I felt the difference.

Others have suggested counseling. By all means, find someone to talk to, but make sure you talk to your EP or whoever manages your pacemaker checks. There's a reason that the word "heart" is found in many phrases that refer to feelings. Heart-sick. Heartless. Heartfelt. Young at heart. Light hearted You can probably list 20 more.

I think our language reflects the intuition that our feelings affect our hearts, and our hearts affect our feelings. When a heart depends somewhat upon a machine, it's only wise to look at what the machine is programmed to do.

thank you!

by RoseOfOz - 2019-03-09 19:20:45

Hey all...

 

thanks so much for your thoughful and encouraging replies. I seldom reach out for help (but when I do, lol). to answer questions, my HR is set to no slower than 60bpm. I would have thought a resting heartrate at my age would be slightly higher because I'm not an elite athlete. I just spent a week off a couple of weeks ago doing plenty of hiking...and I'm not exactly sedentary (except I do have a deskjob) and I have a fantastic diet - mostly plant based. in january I had a bad bout of flu, first time in a very long time...at least 10 years. And it brought this massive bout of melancholia with it. I researched and discovered that depression is inexorably linked to the flu at a cellular level, so that has not helped. I am also a Creative and an activist. I have many things contributing to my depression, but the anxiety and level of overall 'helplessness' was exacerbated when I had a slight dizzy spell during our recent heatwave (oh by the way I'm an aussie. no winter blues here :) ) and it triggered something directly related to the trauma of having fainted a year ago. So it's been a bit of a domino effect. I also moved mid year. had to sue my first ex for money he owed me for over 30 years...that kind of thing lol. 

I'm trying to pin it on something and see if anything helps me turn the corner so that the rest of the stuff I normally take in my stride will follow suit. I'm extremely tough, emotionally, but part of me is enjoying this level of vulnerability because I'm finally learning how to not be ashamed of it. So yeah, coming to any kind of forum, to reach out for help, is definitely my last act of a desperately sad mind. ("I don't care if it's the first act of henry the V." hello to any mel brooks fans).

 

thank you all so much for your advice. I'm seeing a counsellor tomorrow. and I will take the advice on board re: ideal resting heart rate. maybe I should get a little kick along.

 

love and peace and hugs to you all xoxoxox

YES, PM Adjustments!

by KonaLawrence - 2019-03-09 22:50:39

Hi Rose,
Seeing a counselor is great.  Personally, I read the posts on this website way more often than I visit Facebook or anything else.  It helps me to check in and see how my "group" is doing.  Someone also suggested you get your PM settings checked/changed.  
I strongly agree that you should talk to your "device specialist" about changing the settings in your PM.  Their job is to help you live your "normal" life.  Or live your life "normally".  Whatever.
There are many, many settings that can be changed.  At your appointment tell them how much energy you have and when you get tired when any dizziness occurs and when you breath hard, and, and, and...
Go through how it feels when you are working at home, at work, going up stairs, out for a long walk, doing vigorous exercise, getting up in the night, coughing, laughing, when sleeping.  Everything you can think of.  In fact, write it all down before you see them so you can ask them about each one separately.  I am a 70 year old athlete with a Medtronics PM for brady and I asked for and got 8 appointments in the first 9 months.  You don't have to wait for your next appointment.  Tell them you don't feel right and you need adjustments.  And keep after them until you've got ALL of your life back. 
Good Luck, Lawrence
 

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