Hello

I just had a pacemaker put in last week. A little over a month ago, I fainted while eating dinner. I went, with my wife, to the urgent care the next morning. They set me up to consult with a cardiologist, who decided I should wear a heart monitor for two weeks to see what is going on. He also had me schedule an appointment for an ultrasound of my heart. A week after I sent the monitor back, and while I was at the ultrasound, I had a phone call that I let go to voice mail. When I checked my voice mail after the ultrasound, it was the cardiologist office telling me that they had detected eight events in which my heart had stopped beating for anywhere from two seconds to seven seconds. I later learned that there had also been a three-second stop while I was in the ultrasound. I was told I needed to check into the emergency room immediately. I went in and they were expecting me. I was kept overnight and my pacemaker was put in early the next morning. I am now home and trying to recover. As a warehouse employee who is used to slinging chains and straps all day to tie down heavy loads on flatbed trailers, I am trying to understand how this will affect my job and my family. I am restricted from any heavy lifting with my left arm until early August, and strongly advised against any heavy lifting altogether until then. From what I understand, this is just to give time for the muscle tissue of the heart to grow around the wires that go to my pacemaker. This is all so new to me and I really want to get back normal, if such a thing even exists.


4 Comments

new normal

by Tracey_E - 2020-06-30 14:11:13

You'll need to take it easy until you heal, but after that you should be able to get back to life as it was before. The biggest difference is now your heart won't pause so you'll be safe. Many of us find our new normal is a whole lot like our old normal. Most of the time I forget the pacer is there, it's just a part of me. 

Emergency pacemaker

by AgentX86 - 2020-06-30 14:17:13

Welcome to the club (that you don't want to be a member).

You're on the right track with your thinking. The weight restriction is so that your pacemaker leads anchor into the heart properly and everything heals completely.  After that period,  have at it. You'll be fine to do whatever. You'll probably not want to shoot a shotgun using that shoulder but the list of don't dos is pretty short. Your doctors or PM tech will go over your instructions. Id advise that your wife be there. Since this is a shock, you don't want to miss anything - two heads are better than one. Write everything down, both instructions and your questions (ahead of appointments).

BTW, I got that "get thee to the ER" call at 3:00AM. The difference was that my EP had been discussing a PM for a long time for other reasons. Unlike you, I was all but expecting to get a PM soon.

Maybe n0t so fast...

by Protimenow - 2020-06-30 15:51:11

I hate to throw water on your plans.

I got a message from a long-term PM owner cautioning about lifting anything heavy over your head. I was also warnet not to do pull ups. There may be some things that it's safer not to do. 

Check with your doctor, and maybe others (as you've done here) to be certain that your warehouse work is safe. 

Protimenow

by Tracey_E - 2020-06-30 16:41:33

There are some doctors who restrict pull ups and overhead weights, but most do not. There are some people who have damaged leads exercising, but it's rare.  My St Judes rep had been with SJM a long time when I met him in 1994 so he's has monitored a lot of patients over the years and he said nothing I did was going to damage a lead. My ep is an adult congenital specialist, head of ep at a large research hospital, so most of his patients are paced for a lifetime. He said nothing I did was going to damage a lead, that they are thin and flexibile and meant to move with us and he loves that I do Crossfit. I specifically asked about pull ups and overhead barbell work and he said go for it.

There are exceptions, of course, but unless we have other conditions that would hold us back, or unless our placement is unusual, there is no reason to let the pacer keep us from doing what we want to do. I've done Crossfit for 9 years now and I do it all (if you're not familiar, Olympic lifts, kettle bells, pull ups, push ups, running, rowing, whatever else they throw at us). I also kayak, hike with a heavy pack, love ropes courses, ride roller coasters...  I still have one working lead from 1994, the other was replaced in 2010 which is normal life expectancy for a lead. My ep keeps a close eye on the condition of my leads, so far the old one is still going strong.

Have you seen what's involved in extraction when they remove old leads? They are in so tight after the first year it takes a special laser used by a highly specialized surgeon to get them out. 

YMMV, do what you are comfortable with. Not every doctor will agree with the advice I've been given but I've had quite a few doctors in the 26 years I've been paced, and not one has told me to baby the pacer, not one has told me no to any activity I've wanted to try. 

You know you're wired when...

Your ICD has a better memory than you.

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Life does not stop with a pacemaker, even though it caught me off guard.