Long distance kayaking and my new PM

I am a newby pm owner as of one month ago tomorrow. 68 yrs old. Avid long distance kayamper and hiker. How soon can I expect to start training for my next kayamping trip which starts Aug 1st on the Yellowstone River for 554 miles and approx 20 days? Will be paddling approx 8hrs a day. How soon can I expect to carry a full backpack with a week's food and gear for several days safely? 


Kayakamping, hiking with PM

by ar_vin - 2019-03-13 19:36:13

Welcome to the Club and please complete your profile so folks may weigh in with appropriate responses.

Without knowing the underlying cause for which you got the PM it's impossible to respond. Just know that there a lot of folks here who are very active outdoors after a PM implant.

The critical thing is to go by the guidance of your EP and allow the PM to settle, your body to recover from the procedure and get used to the PM.


Outdoor exercise

by Theknotguy - 2019-03-14 16:08:10

You have good questions.  People who are more active before getting the pacemaker have a faster recovery time than people who aren't as active.  However other things to consider is why you have the pacemaker, what kind of meds you are taking, and how fast your body heals.  We have people who are up and out at four weeks while others drag on for months.  It can be mostly due to how fast their body heals and have nothing to do with what they'd like to do.  For me, it took over four weeks for the implant wound to heal.  Then I threw the ball for the dog and pulled some of the underlying tissue so it was another six weeks before the wound site quit being sore.  Starting vigorous exercise too soon can pull open the implant wound, open you up to infection, and possibly damage the leads.  Not a good place to be.  

The other thing you have to take into consideration is the wind milling of your arms as you paddle.  The rapid high movement of the arm coupled with the power stroke as you pull the paddle through the water can really put some stress on the pacemaker area.  I did kayaking before I got the pacemaker so I understand how you're going to use the arms.  For me, even though I was in good physical shape, I don't think I would have tried kayaking until a year after I got my pacemaker.  I would want to give the underlying tissue plenty of time to heal before going at it full bore.  And the other thing I'd want to do is to go on some practice runs to see how everything works before going on a long trip.  If they have to life flight you out it gets real expensive real fast.

Next question is if you're on any new meds.  Meds can affect reaction time, change how you stay hydrated, and affect your stamina.  In kayaking you have to be ready to right the boat from an upside down position.  Are you on any meds that affect your reaction time?  That can be a problem.  

I didn't have too much problem with the backpack.  Just made sure there was an extra cushion on the side of the pacemaker.  The first couple of days there was some soreness.  I also got one of those straps and clip that pulled the big straps towards the center of the chest.  That really relieved the pressure on the pacemaker site.  

Finally, why do you have the pacemaker.  I'm in afib between 15 to 20% of the time and vigorous exercise can affect my afib.  

For me, looking at the timing of your trip - about 120 days out I'd cancel and use this year to heal and get your body in shape for next year.  Like I said getting a life flight out because you're in trouble can get real expensive, real fast.  A lot of those agencies take a dim view of people who do things they shouldn't and charge the max accordingly.  Adage being, "Stupid should be painful."  They have sympathy if you get caught in something that isn't your fault but take a really dim view of people who should know better.  

I had broken ribs due to CPR.  Started at nine months doing heavier exercise.  I'd work one day, then use hot packs, cold packs, and Tylenol to get me through the next four days.  There were days I'd finish exercise and it would feel like my pacemaker was wrapped in sandpaper.  So it was another three months of exercise before I could go at it full bore.

Ultimately you are the judge of how your body feels.  I just wouldn't push it.  

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