Anxiety, Depression and Fatigue

  • by mkatz
  • 2023-07-24 15:06:38
  • ICDs

Hello lovely Pacemaker Community,

I am 34 and had an ICD/Pacemaker inserted two weeks ago after recently learning I have Left Ventricular Non Compaction, I've had recurrent syncope with asystole. My recovery is going well except I'm feeling extreme fatigue every day, as well as intermittent anxiety (which is normal for me). I took 3 wks after work (I'm a Certified Nurse Midwife), and expected by now to be feeling so much better, I go for a 30 minute walk every day and that's about the only activity I can manage without feeling extremely tired. Has anyone experienced this? Normally I'm very active and until my ecent diagnosis thought I was pretty healthy.

I also realized yesterday I think I'm experiencing depression, which is not something I've thankfully struggled with before. I'm wondering if that's contributing to, or caused by the fatigue. I've been trying to stay positive throughout my cardiac work up and procedure but now see everything in such a negative light, my self esteem feels low and just feel sad. I have so much to be grateful for and wish I could focus on that. My poor partner has been struggling to support me through this, we are both a bit overwhelmed. I am seeing a therapist weekly, although I feel like getting through each day is a challenge. I thought I'd be feeling so much better by now, and the doctor had even told me I didn't need so much time off work and recovery is easy. I have ten days until I start working again and I'm worried I won't be up to taking care of patients when I'm so exhausted! If anyone has any advice I'd very much appreciate it!







by Tracey_E - 2023-07-24 17:08:15

If you read through other posts here, you'll see that you are not alone. Many find the emotional recovery to be harder than the physical, and sadly, many doctors do not take this seriously and expect us to bounce back overnight. It's great that you are talking to someone and have a supportive partner. It's great that you are getting outside and trying to be positive. You are doing all the right things! But it's ok to not be ok.

Depression can contribute to fatigue, yes. But it's also normal to be tired for a while. I napped a lot the first month. It's a minor surgery, but it's still a stress to the body. Are you on new meds? Many heart meds cause fatigue for the first month or two. 

My nonprofessional opinion is you are on the right track, just be kind to yourself and give yourself more time to heal both physically and emotionally. 

Thank you!

by mkatz - 2023-07-24 17:23:36

I appreciate your encouragement and validation that what I'm experiencing isn't unusual. I'll continue to look through this forum's posts, it does sound like I just need more time and to be kind to myself. I think my partner and I were under the impression I'd bounce back more quickly and the exhaustion and depression were really a surprise. 

I'm not on any meds at the moment, I'm seeing a heart failure specialist next month (my ejection fraction is ok at 50) although my cardiologist said they might want to start some things as preventative. Considering how I'm feeling I'm shocked the doctor thought I'd be back up and ready for 24hr shifts delivering babies, I'm just happy if I take a walk and a shower each day! It sounds like my symptoms are actually pretty normal, I'll work on reminding myself of that. Thank you for all the kind words and encouragement!


by Fantasyfanuk - 2023-07-24 17:49:15

I'm sorry you are struggling with fatigue and I can totally identify with that. I was off work from my admin job for around five weeks after my first pacemaker was implanted, which was done as an emergency so I was quite ill already. Even then I didn't feel ready to go back but everyone kept telling me the pacemaker was working fine and I must be feeling so much better! I was initially too tired to eat sometimes and if I was trying to talk to  people on either side of me, it was exhausting just turning my head to look at them. This did improve but I was never as well as they said I should be. Two years later I managed to convince a cardiologist at a bigger hospital that I wasn't better and I had a CRT pacemaker implanted, which has made a huge difference to my quality of life and I am greatly improved. I cannot imagine going back to work such long shifts when you are feeling so fatigued. Recovery times quoted in patient info are not accurate for everyone, presumably at least in part depending on prior level of illness, and people need differing lengths of time off work. I hope you feel a lot better soon. 

Thank you!

by mkatz - 2023-07-24 17:55:35

Thank you for your response! I appreciate hearing about your experience and recovering time. I know it shouldn't be a surprise but so many things I've been told (like I'll feel great after a week or two, or I won't feel the pacing) have been inaccurate and it's kind of invalidating. It's a good reminder for me as a medical provider that every experience is different and I think we tend to minimize recovery periods! I'm glad to hear you're feeling better, although it sounds like it was quite a process for you. Even just now I did a 20 minute pilates video with modifications, and it completely wiped me out, and talking to people for more than 45 minutes is too much! I was thankfully pretty healthy before the procedure, apart from the stress of learning about my heart defect. Thank you for sharing your recovery experience! 


by Lavender - 2023-07-24 20:04:17

Be good to yourself. Ignore anyone telling you how you should feel. I felt like I was being shamed by my previous cardiologist. She acted like I was a wimp. Kept telling me that she was "talking me off the ledge" if I asked questions. Thanks be to God, she left town. I now have a compassionate caring and patient cardiologist. 

I was wiped out emotionally and physically after my sudden cardiac arrest which led to a pacemaker. When I got home, I was exhausted and in pain. If I didn't lie down for a nap, I fell asleep right where I was sitting.  I did take walks right away, but felt so tired. Of course, it improved. I felt really good about the seven month mark. 

Yep we're all different. Some folks get a pacemaker and don't miss a beat. My neighbor guy said he never gave it a thought and forgot about it right away. 

Your mind is adjusting too. We thought we were healthy. That time bomb inside was sneaky. I'm so glad it was discovered and defused. 

Thank you for your dedication to bringing babies safely into this world. Once you're completely healed, you can continue to share your knowledge and expertise. It won't always feel this way.  It's so early in the process of adjusting mentally and physically. Ask your cardiologist about the level of exercise appropriate.

May God richly bless you with complete healing and strength. Hugs. 💕

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