Pacemaker Install on Wed

Ok.  The doc said pacemaker and my appointment is on this coming Wednesday.  Oh do I live with a pacemaker?


14 Comments

Hi again

by Lavender - 2024-01-27 20:05:29

Spencer, the question is how would you live without a pacemaker? We in the club go on with our lives. We heal mentally and physically and resume our lives without the worry of losing our lives. 
 

May God guide the surgeon and may your healing go smoothly and completely. May your mind be at ease knowing you're not alone and many others have been on the path before you. 💗

Pacemaker

by Flo - 2024-01-27 20:38:59

Spencer, my best to you Wednesday.  

What changes?

by Spencer - 2024-01-27 21:35:12

What changes on Wed afternoon?  What can i do?  What can't I do?  I think this vastly changes my life and I dont know what the changes are? I also habe to deal with my medical trauma from years in mi,itary service and psych wards. 

Not much changes

by Lavender - 2024-01-27 21:56:04

You may come home with your arm in a sling to remind you not to raise the pacemaker side arm. The elbow has to stay below the shoulder for a couple weeks. However use the arm! Only wear the sling the first day or so. You will be told not to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk for a bit. I only needed tylenol a couple days. 
We will be here and you can let us know how went. We can reach out and hang on to help you!  
This does not vastly change your life!! In time you forget the pacemaker is there. 

Preparation

by Penguin - 2024-01-28 06:45:14

Hi, 

I'm so sorry to hear that you are afraid. Lots of people are afraid with and without mental health complications. You are not alone. 

Re: What to Expect Afterwards: Can I suggest that you go to the ‘Learn’ tab at the top of this forum and go to the FAQ section. Here you will find what to expect from the operation and any limitations which may be imposed in the short term (whilst you recover and the wires bed in). 

Re: Your medical trauma. If you have not already done so, a phone call (on Monday perhaps), to the ward who will admit you or to your surgeon’s secretary would be wise. Your concerns regarding your mental health history and triggers need to be discussed.  A frank conversation in advance will allow the staff who deal with you pre, post and during surgery to plan for your care and will make them aware of any potential triggers for your condition, the symptoms you experience and to help them understand what does and doesn’t help you when you become alerted.  Express what you are and are not comfortable with explicitly.  Concentrate on the elimination of sensory triggers perhaps. 

Psychiatry: Psychiatric liaison personnel (psychiatric nurses / doctors who advise other disciplines of medicine on patient triggers / handling in your situation) can be requested. Not every hospital will have access to people who have this training.

What might be suggested: The type and timing of any calming / sedating drugs used is something to discuss. Most people have local anaesthesia and a calming drug but general anaesthetic may be available if you are terrified and likely to react strongly to your triggers. If noise and sensory input can be alerting, you might like to discuss the possibility of a side room or to bring in earphones.  The administration of calming drugs before you get to the operating theatre may help with anticipatory fear if the operation itself is your trigger.   Quiet, calm voices, gentle considered treatment and the presence of someone you trust can all help enormously and are under-estimated IMO.

What can you do to help yourself? Take someone with you who you trust and check how long they can stay with you. Ask them to help with the paperwork or request it in advance. Ask them to listen carefully to instructions for post operative care and relay them to you later. You might like to consider taking something into hospital with you like a recording / music so that you have a relaxation method available to you during the waiting period and afterwards. Earphones may help cancel out any sensory distractions.  

Please try to remember that you are not alone in fearing an operation or hospital admission, but it is always best to forewarn and plan in advance!  I am sure that you will be fine and hope that your fears will be treated with respect and sensitivity.  I wish you all the best. 

What is life like with a pacemaker

by Good Dog - 2024-01-28 08:06:44

I received my dual chamber PM back in 1987, 2 weeks after turning 38 years old. I had no internet back then and they discharged me with little information. So I thought my life (as I knew it) was over. I got pretty depressed for a while. OMG; was I wrong. My life has been completely normal since. No exaggeration. Aside from routine checks and generator changes, I have been able to do everything after the PM that I could do before it. Pacemakers enable us, they DO NOT disable us. As you learn more I am confident you will find this out on your own.

I wish you nothing, but the best!

Sincerely,

Dave

no changes

by Tracey_E - 2024-01-28 10:43:49

Once you heal, there is very very little we can't do. Most of the things that will affect the device are in industrial settings, not around the house. For me, it's the same as before but with more energy. Like Dave, I've been paced a long time (coming up on 30 years). No one looks at me and sees a heart patient. I'm healthy and active. 

couple of thoughts

by Pacer2019 - 2024-01-28 11:46:51

> will your life change? YES! When mine was intalled it changed dramatially but in a good way! Heart was plodding along at 40 bpm and i felt like trash.. once the incision heaked I felt awesome agin.

> pre-op fear - im right there with you. Use the wordn'anxiety" and ask your primary care doctor for something to take before you show up - they gave me on xanax.. when i gotthere i was relaxed and sleepy..couldnt wait to lay down.

 

> this site is a  good site with lot's who have been throuh what we have been though and a whole lot worse!!  As I recover i jump on when I have questions or when I just get loneley

Let us know how it goes!!!

Also

by Lavender - 2024-01-28 20:44:34

In the upper left corner you will see the word "Learn". Click on that to see a list of famous people with pacemakers. They went on with their lives. It doesn't handicap you. Here's the link to copy and paste if you don't see the list:

https://www.pacemakerclub.com/famous-recipients

A lot of positive feedback but....

by R2D2 - 2024-01-28 20:59:54

I appreciate that most of our members have such positive experiences with their surgery and ability to do lots of things they couldn't do before... but... my experience wasn't and isn't like that. I live in the US, had my surgery in northern Idaho and a fanstastic heart facility and as for the actual surgery and treatment at the hospital, it went MUCH better than I even dreamed. I have an ejection fraction of only 16 though, diagnosed with heart failure and cardiomyopathy about 10 years ago with definite loss of function over the last few years. I got a CRT-D device, which is larger than a pacemaker so some of what I'm going through doesn't quite apply but at least you have both sides of the coin. After my surgery, of which I opted to be just put to sleep for the whole thing, I decided to stay over night which was best for me. In the hospital, I was given pain medication, I believe it was morphine. I was told all I would need when I went home was Tylenol... and NO, that wasn't true at ALL. Luckily I still had a fresh prescription for hydrocodone from getting a wisdom tooth pulled two weeks previous, and I saved it "just in case." I asked my surgeon if that was okay to take when I went home and he said it was fine. Boy did I need it! The incision site felt like I had been run through with a sword, no joke. If I moved even a few inches, it HURT. Not just a little, a LOT. I couldn't lay on my left side for a couple of months without enough pain to make me change my mind. 

(I have had two children, and didn't use any pain killers for that, a third degree sprain, bulging discs in my low back... I KNOW what pain is and usually don't need anything stronger than some Ibuprofen. But this was different.)

It may have just been the actual size of the device that made the drastic difference, but whatever the case may be, I took about 2 months to feel decent again. 

Unfortunately, my device hasn't raised my ejection fraction at all yet. It's been 6 months and my echo didn't change. I've been told it will take longer. To go through all of that and still have issues with what feels like a hockey puck in my chest, it's discouraging to say the least. However, I get the impression that eventually it WILL help. It is aready helping, and if I am patient, I will feel better and be able to start doing "normal" things again. 

Not everyone has a great story to tell, some of us are just hanging on by a thread, but I've been told it gets better and I have to believe that. So don't be all discouraged if you hurt more than you think you should, or feel a lack of control while you heal. Everyone has a different experience and hopefully yours will be positive. 

As for someone's comment on the VA... clearly they don't live in the USA or they would know that in most parts, the VA isn't exactly an asset. They take forever to even see you, don't put much effort into what your needs are and I would say from my experience that they aren't an asset for vets. I've watched so many people locally that get so ignored by the VA, have medical conditions get worse while the patient waits months to be seen... it's really sad. 

I totally understand your anxiety issues; and until your surgery is behind you, your head will be swimming with what if's. But my Mom always told me, you either let it handle you, or you handle IT first. Hang in there, you have support here when you need it. We all understand what you are going through. I got a serious education after joining this club, one that my doctors didn't bother sharing with me. And I'm one of those people that likes to KNOW what they are doing to me and WHY! 

Ask the questions, until you get the answers. I'll be thinking of you Wednesday. You can do this. I did... and I'm super stressed over hospitals and needles and etc. 

Healing time will be different for each one of us depending on other health conditions present

by Gemita - 2024-01-29 02:58:39

Dear Spencer, I hope the comments on this thread will reassure you that the procedure is usually straightforward with few risks.  Of course with any procedure we can expect some soreness and discomfort until healing takes place and healing time will be different for each one of us depending on other health conditions present.  For example someone already in heart failure or with another debilitating health condition may take longer to heal from the implant surgery than someone who is otherwise in good health.  

What is important is that you focus on the benefits of having a pacemaker and there will be many.  Speaking personally with several other health conditions present, I can confidently say that my quality of life has improved immensely with a pacemaker.  My heart rhythm disturbances are now so well controlled although I have been a super responder to pacing.    Perhaps you will be too?

Like all members here, I send you my very best wishes for a very successful procedure and outcome.  

Some balance

by Lavender - 2024-01-29 08:15:38

So there has to be some balance here in the comments presented. You can see one extreme to the other, as in life. However, the MAJORITY of people receiving pacemakers have a good outcome with a relatively easy recovery. You will find everything in between. 
 

Thousands of people get pacemakers each year. Only a small percentage have more complications. Some of those people come here to seek support. Most people with no issues post pacemaker implant simply feel no need to google for help. They're off and busy with life. 

My personal experience was that my ejection fraction improved to normal. Yes, there was discomfort and I was mentally distraught at needing this, and mad at my body for failing me. Balance that with the dang thing saving my life. 
 

R2D2 would most likely be dead without her device. Her pain experience is way at the opposite end of the spectrum of outcomes. But, here she is. She's well enough to be posting here. As discouraging as it can be to live with the knowledge that your heart needs help...there's this-YOU ARE ALIVE. As long as we live, there is hope. 
 

As for the comments on the care from the Veterans Affairs-let me add this to balance it. The person who posted suggesting the VA DOES live in the USA. I know several veterans who received excellent care and attention from our two major VA facilities. They had quick access to surgery, medication and doctors. 
 

This is not a one size fits all situation. The scales balance strongly in favor of good outcomes. 

Spencer, your situation is unique to you. Go in expecting the best outcome. Don't let fear prevent you from moving forward and bettering your quality of life by getting a boost for your heart. 

PTSD Trigger

by Spencer - 2024-01-29 14:13:37

My install is on Wed.  I am triggered by complex-PTSD from childhood experciences and very bad military medicine and psych units. My childhood  abuse was sexual for years starting at about six years old.  I keep having flashbacks of the gang of kids being in the room when i am being sadated or relaxed with drugs while waiting for the surgery. Im incapacited and open for an another attack. I cant believe  i can even talk about this. First time outside of my therapist and psychiatrist.  But the flashbacks keep coming after me.  You have to dress in their gown (easy access for the gang) and you will be drugged so you cant fight back.  It never mattered before because they would beat you severely if you did not comply with what they were going to do.  i see them right on the other side of that surgery door.  The degradation, dehumanization, and complete loss of power and self. You be ome a thing for their pleasure. You perform or get beat.  You have to give in. You have to do what they want. You cant ever fight back or even say no.  Wed is going to be very tough.  I hope i can go through this. 

Hugs

by Lavender - 2024-01-29 15:19:50

Spencer,

No one should have to go through what you went through as a child. It's horrific. I am glad you shared this with us so we can try and get a sense of the root of your fear. I'm teary eyed just imagining an unprotected child in such an evil place. 
 

When these thoughts come on it has to be debilitating. I'm not in your shoes but feel you must reinforce the backup thought that you are fully grown now and can defend yourself. The medical profession would never allow anything like this to happen to you. In a sterile environment no one else can enter the surgery area unauthorized. No one will harm you again ever. As long as you live. God bless you with perfect peace. 

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99% of the time, I totally forget I even have this device.