Have had pacemaker for 7 weeks. Can I do garden digging, shoveling gravel, chainsaw work?


I'd take it easy

by Theknotguy - 2019-05-12 07:59:57

There is a lot of healing of the underlying tissue that goes on even after the surface skin has healed.  If you push it too hard you pull that tissue and you can lengthen the amount of time it takes your pacemaker pocket to heal.  I started too early, threw the ball for the dog and really pulled something in the pacemaker pocket.  It took another six weeks for the area I pulled to heal.   Didn't bother the leads or anything like that.  And it was really sore during that time. 

The digging and shoveling work is especially hard because you're pushing and pulling in all directions.  I went back to working in the charity wood shop and I'd be OK while I was doing the work but then spend the next four days popping aspirin and using hot and cold packs. So you have to really cut back until all that underlying tissue has healed.  If you want the same sized garden as in previous years, I'd buy a half case of beer and have a couple of neighbors over for a garden tilling party.  They'd probably work for the next eight weeks for that kind of payment.  

I got one of those electric chain saws.  A lot smaller and easier to toss around.  Cut down and carved up a 30 foot tree.  No problems.  And, of course, the saw had all sorts of warnings all over it about operating it with a pacemaker.  So if you're going to be doing the trimming type of work I'd use one of the smaller saws.  I wouldn't touch a larger saw until I'd been healing for at least six months.  There's just too much pushing and pulling and that can damage the tissue in your pacemaker pocket.  

I haven't been bothered by any machinery except for a sawz-all reciprocating saw.  The vibration makes my pacemaker think I'm running and it kicks up my heart rate.  Same for riding in larger trucks if I'm not driving.  Bouncing around does the same thing.  Other than that I can run any machinery I'd like.  I do my lawn and the trimming.  Also work at a charity wood shop and run all the equipment there.  So you should be good to go for that. I'm going on six years with my pacemaker now so everything is well healed.

I was really banged up before I got my pacemaker since they did CPR and busted a lot of ribs.  I still can't do the digging and shovel work so I went to the rain gutter garden system.  The most I have to lift is a five gallon bucket of dirt with no weeding during the summer.  But since we're into spring planting at this time it's probably too late for you to switch over from a regular type of garden.  If you search the Internet you can see all sorts of stuff about doing a (RGGS) rain gutter garden system. Pretty neat.

Hope everything else is going well for you.  


by Landes - 2019-05-12 12:59:02

great feedback!  A guess I’ve been doing way too much. I have a check up next week so hopefully no damage. 

Ill have to buy many kegs of beer for my buddies just to get through half my list. 

Glad to know you are doing well. 

Thanks again. 

If you're OK

by Theknotguy - 2019-05-12 18:05:41

If you've been doing some of the stuff you asked about and are getting along OK, then I wouldn't worry about it too much.  As I said, I was really banged up from CPR and it's hard for me to judge how everyone else does.  I moved 2000 pounds of wood on the day before and walked 3 miles the day of my collapse.  They said if I hadn't been in as good of shape I never would have survived.  It took me two years to get back to "normal" from the pounding I took from the CPR.  That's why I hurt so much when I went back to doing volunteer work at the woodshop.  

So if you're doing the work and getting along OK I would just keep doing it.  However if you have a choice about doing a lot of work at one time or pushing to get something done, I'd back off.  Wouldn't really push something for at least the first six months until the PM pocket really heals.  There were days I'd leave the wood shop and the next day it would feel like my pacemaker was wrapped in sandpaper.  Then I'd have to pop aspirin and use hot and cold packs for the next four days.  So if you do the work and feel OK  then I wouldn't worry about it.  

I just found out that when that when they do CPR on you at age 63 it takes six years for broken ribs to heal.  Finally had a session with my licensed massage therapist where she was able to dig down and get to some of the sore spots that have been bothering me for the last six years.  So if you have an option about getting CPR I'd pass on that too.  Course, I didn't have an option.  

With the pacemaker, getting out there and doing things will help.  If you sit, you're dead.  So any exercise is better than none at all.  Like I said, I can't do the digging and I can't toss heavy wood around like I used to - it just hurts too much.  But the exercise doesn't bother my pacemaker and does help with my heart.  So getting out there and doing things is better than sitting.  I am getting better at letting the guys with the strong bodies and weak brains move stuff in the wood shop.  I'm also getting better at using hydraulic lifts to move the heavy stuff.  

Got into a discussion with my neighbor about using the chain saw.  We figured out if I'd turn it upside down and started cutting something with the chain saw motor close to my pacemaker - it would be a bad idea.  I also told my neighbor that if I used the chain saw to cut something that way I would definitely deserve anything bad that happened.  If you have an ICD you'll definitely want to keep the chain saw motor away from the pocket area.  The old rule of six inches applies.  Last info I had was four inches and 90 gauss on the magnet was a really bad idea for an ICD.  

As I said before, hope everything is going well for you.  Sounds like you're otherwise adjusting well.  Keep up the good work.

I got cleared to resume everything around 7 weeks

by CyborgMike - 2019-05-12 23:44:13

I got cleared to resume normal activity and exercise around six to seven weeks, but everyone's personal situation is different. I was running, backpacking, and doing other activity, but I would need to listen to my body more and I definately wasn't at 100%. Lifting heavy things with my left arm took longer to fully recover. If I pushed it too hard my left arm would hurt for a few days. If you get cleared by docs, just do what feels right for your body and back-off if pushing too hard. 

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