New member- a few questions

I just joined this forum, thanks already for the helpful information.

I'm female and in my 30's and I got a pacemaker 3 weeks ago. I had a few cardiac arrests and went to the ER, so there wasn't much planning involved. The surgery was fine, but I ended up with a significant pnuemothorax, which bought me a few extra hospital days and a really fun chest tube. There's no real reason for the CA, except bradycardia and a funky sinus node.

Anyway, I want to know if anyone else has experienced some of the post-surgery things I have.

1) I have vague discomfort in my neck and chest near my heart and pacemaker, but nothing I can describe clearly.

2) Has anyone had their pacemaker moved to a less obvious and more comfortable position (I can't imagine it will be easy to backpack etc)?

3) I have two little children and I want to play with them and carry them, but I'm paranoid about pulling out my leads right now. Has this happened to anyone and what caused it? What did it feel like?

Any input is really appreciated. Overall, I'm happy to have my PM, it gives me lots of peace of mind.




by CathrynB - 2007-08-20 08:08:16

Hey G, Welcome to the PM Club. I've found this to be a wonderful forum to answer all my questions and concerns. I hope your recovery from here on goes smoothly.
I'll only address your question #2. I got my first PM in January and had continuing pain/discomfort with the location. After 6 months, still in pain, my doctor agreed it was time to move it, so I had it surgically re-located 5 weeks ago. I am now completely pain-free (and it's completely invisible, tho' that's not why I wanted it moved, but then I'm 50 years old). I am a very active outdoors person, including backpacking, and there were many things I couldn't do until I had it moved. I've posted several times about my experience, so if you want to know more, please send me a private message or look under the "complications" forum in the gray-shaded column on the left and you'll find posts from me addressing this issue in the last 6 months. Take care and keep us posted on how you're doing, Cathryn

Chest Tubes Hurt!

by hooimom - 2007-08-20 08:08:31

Hi G,
I too had a lovely chest tube for three days. It certainly was not what I expected from my "minor" surgery. I came home with a pain that ran from my chest, into my neck and up into my head. I don't know if it was the position I had been in during the hospital stay or just staying tense from the constant pain but it was quite uncomfortable. I was nervous I had pulled a lead, but all was fine with my PM. I can't remember how long the pain lasted, but it was at least 2 weeks.

My PM rubs the muscle and I have considered having it moved, but I am not ready for another procedure--even one considered minor. I have had mine for a year and I'll see if I can hold out and have it moved when my battery gives out. My shoulder hurts quite often, and maybe I'll change my mind but for now I am not going to have it moved.

Sorry to say, but like ela-girl said, you can't pick the kids up right now. Try snuggling up for a story or movie together instead. I know that not picking them up and carrying them around will be difficult, but don't risk pulling a lead. My doctor said nothing heavier than 5 pounds for 6 weeks. It isn't easy when you live a busy life, but you have to be careful. Take care of yourself.

You have a wonderful attitude!


by ela-girl - 2007-08-20 08:08:52

Heya, G!

You have found a great online support group! I'm sure someone will be able to answer any or all your questions. What I can tell you from experience (I'm 30 and had my pm implanted via emergency surgery for severe bradycardia and NCS) is that I had quite some stiffness and discomfort for about 4 weeks. It was at the 4 week mark that I really started noticing a difference for the better. I think most my discomfort was from having to be so careful in day to day tasks like washing and doing my hair to sleeping.

As far as carry your kids right now...that would be a big NO! From my understanding and from my doctor, you are not to lift over 10 lbs until after the 6 week mark when you are cleared by your doctor. I am also a backpacker and my EP cleared me for backpacking in May (about 6 months after my surgery). He said that if my incision site bothers me from the backpack to just put a folded hankie or something over the area to protect it. But the weight of the pack should not be an issue 'pushing' on it.

So, this is what I can tell you. I know there have been people here who have had issues with their leads being pulled, so hopefully someone else will chime in!

Happy pacing!


by randrews - 2007-08-20 11:08:13

Sorry to hear about the issues that led to the pm but thank God for pms and successful surgeries. After getting mine in I too felt uncomfortable in my chest but it was just general achiness and my voice got real hoarse. While I never recommend paranoia, it's good to watch that arm. I agree with what Ela said about caring for the arm and what Michelle said about snuggling with the kids for a while. My kids are 8 and 11 and I wrestle and play with them alot now, but I'm constantly protecting my site.
Overall, give yourself time to heal. Stay active with walking for now and focus on the good things.
Keep us up to date,

g's ?'s

by luckyloo - 2007-08-21 10:08:35

dear g,

your neck and chest discomfort may be due to the pneumothorax. you probably had air leak out from your lung to the subcutaneous tissue. i had a tiny pneumo requiring no chest tube. it was up by my neck. i could actually hear or feel a "crackle" when i would press on the tissue. really strange feeling. it will be somewhat painfull around the device until it gets settled into it's pocket...a couple weeks.

can't pick your kids up for a few weeks. that was hard for me too. i had a toddler and 4 ytr. old.

my lead came out day after surgery because dr.'s didn't screw it in very good. i felt excrutiating chest pain because the pacer wire was trying to pace my diaphram. you'll know if it comes out. i have ICD with pacer function turned on.

take care,

Thank you!

by G - 2007-08-21 12:08:32

Thank you for all the good advice. I do feel like the luckiest person in the world since I had great care, and I was not driving with my children etc. when I blacked out.

You know you're wired when...

You have rhythm.

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I’m healthy as a horse because of the pacemaker.