a little nervous

HI all you wired people My name is Trish. I'm a 56 year old woman. Moderatly active. with a huge personality. I'm getting my pacemaker for the firstime. Don't really know what to expect. They didn't tell me much and I'm trying not to google it to death . Any words of incouragement would be welcome. Nothing that would be scary please. I'm thinking of calling it Metro (short for metronome)

Kind regards, Trish 


A little Nervous

by Sons de Coeur - 2019-09-16 18:21:57

Hi, my name is Nadine.  I have had a pacemaker since 1995. I am on my third one and am 66 years old.  The prodedure is not long nor scary.  The doctors are very aware of the anxiety patients have with pacemaker procedures.  Once you are settled with the IV, they will take you to the surgery room.  The anesthisiologist will give you some drugs to calm your nerves, and they really do take the anxiety and edge off.  I fell asleep through my third procedure; however if you don't sleep, they have a sheet to shield you from the site.  Pacemaker leads are implanted differently depending on the doctor, some go through the leg, others the neck.  After the procedure you will be a little sore, but nothing I was unable to handle.  My pacemaker has saved my life.  Technology has come a long way, and the electrophysilogists doctors are experts.  Wishing you the best.


by Ddefalco326 - 2019-09-16 18:25:15

Hi Trish,

i had my PM surgery on Thursday 9/12/19. I got a lot of good info on this site. I’m 4 days post surgery and went to my Zumba Gold class today and was fine. I went to a wedding on Saturday! Outside of being a little sore around the incision site it hasn’t been bad at all. I also suffer from chronic pain due to a previous car accident. I’m 62 yrs old and fairly active. I’m also new to pacemaker! Good luck, I’m sure you’ll do fine! 

I think you'll be just fine!

by Ellie_9 - 2019-09-16 19:03:01

Hi Trish,

The fact that you're already picking out names for your new "baby" is a good sign! You sound like you have the right attitude, and that'll definitely help.

At least for me, I found the waiting to be the worst part. Not knowing what to expect. Not being in control of what needs to happen. But just about everything I'd imagined was worse than what I experienced, and that seems to be true for others too. So if you have a bit of a wait before your procedure, I suggest finding something to distract yourself (eg, binge watching something you've been wanting to watch, getting together with friends, maybe finishing a project you've been working on, etc).

It's hard to know what to expect because most of the available info is so generic, plus everyone's experiences are so different, but here's how my 4 days have been so far (in case this helps):

- Day 0 (surgery day; first PM): super long exhausting day, awesome hospital staff, some discomfort/pressure, no pain per se. (Hardest part for me was not eating or drinking before the surgery!) 

- Days 1 and 2: felt like I'd been punched in the chest/shoulder by a really big, strong man. So, uncomfortable and sore but not intolerable. First saw the scar (covered with surgical glue); brain still not really registering it as belonging to me. Overall, not bad at all and way better than expected! Took the sling off on Day 1 to keep me limber.

- Day 3: very painful physically and depressing because this is when I first noticed how limited my range of motion is in my affected arm (at least for now [I've been told to be patient though]). Bored. <<I hope my account of this day won't bother you, but I just mention it because my expectation was that every day would be better than the last, and in retrospect that just wasn't realistic. Knowing that we might have some ups and downs can allow us to prepare ourselves mentally.>>

- Day 4 (today): lots of exhaustion (although that's not uncommon for me), still somewhat painful but definitely less pain than Day 3. Feeling more optimistic overall. "I got this!"

Anyway, it's impossible to know how your recovery will go, but if you can rest, keep a good attitude, and surround yourself with positive people, I think it'll go well for you.

I'm still working on naming my device after I get a better sense of its personality, so you're ahead of me! :-)

Good luck to you!!!


Piece of cake

by AgentX86 - 2019-09-16 22:20:37

I had both a PM implanted and an AV ablation (they go into the heart through the femeral vein in the leg and burn out the AV node in the heart, causing a complete heart block) at the same time. I was completely awake during the whole thing and yucking it up with the EP implanting my PM.  All they gave me was the two locals (shoulder for the PM and groin for the heart catheter).

I spent the night in the hospital and went home the next morning.  I was back at work the following day with no pain at all.  Yeah, my shoulder was sore but that's relly all.  The area was sensitive to the touch for a long time, however.  You'll do fine.


by TreLL65 - 2019-09-17 16:19:50

Hi Trish,

Good luck with your procedure.  I have every confidence you'll do just fine.  You've gotten a lot of good advice here.  As mentioned, It's hard to say what you should expect since everyone's situation, treatment, and experience will be a little different.  A lot will depend on your underlying health and your doctor's preferences.  Same goes for how quickly you can expect to recover after the procedure.

I'm 53 and just got my ninth generator a few days ago, so I have lots of experience. :-)  You're doctor will encourage you to have someone with you on the day of the procedure, and I do to.  I hope you have someone who can go.  Their presence will help take your mind off the anxiety.

I presume they've already talked to you about your initial restrictions.  Those too will vary depending on your doctor and your health.  Since this is your first time, your restrictions will be greater and last longer than for a simple generator replacement, but the majority of them will be temporary.  

In my experience, common restrictions will be a lifting limit anywhere from 10 to 25 lb for 1 to 4 weeks post-op; no raising your 'surgery arm' over your head for about the same time limit; keeping the surgical area dry anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks; and no strenuous activity until 4 to 6 weeks post-op.  You'll probably have a driving restriction too.  The last time I had a new lead implanted, I couldn't drive for two weeks...great excuse to use some of my built up sick leave...LOL.

How you feel immediately post-op will depend on your body.  I didn't have any pain with this last one.  The area was obviously swollen, bruised, and sensitive, but never enough pain to need Tylenol.  I was 'sit on the couch and watch the boob tube' tired the day after the procedure, but I've felt fine and had a normal energy level since then.

Hope all of these answers help prepare you!  Take care,


you will forget you have it

by dwelch - 2019-09-17 23:56:33

I have had pacers for over 30 years, am on device number five.

Folks have already described the first few hours/days.  No need to re-hash that other than most folks are not doing zumba day four.  It will literally take weeks to recover, some things take days others take longer.  (arm movement, comfort sleeping, sleeping on that side, sleeping through the night, getting used to the seat belt).

They normally have a return visit in a few weeks, they want to see that the scar is healing, and pretty much every time you see these folks they interrogate the pacer.  Will see the settings are fine.  They often then have you back a few months later, possibly as far out as six months post op.  The scar tissue around the leads has had time to form, changes the resistance, may or may not need a tweak of the settings.  Will want to see the scar has healed nicely.

The interrogation includes some lead tests and other tests.  One will likely speed your heart up get you breating a little faster, not like running a race faster.  One feels like someone is sitting on your chest, sometimes they do those back to back.  Even though they put the settings back it may feel like they didnt for the rest of the visit.  This is all perfectly normal.  Some techs are better than others.  Over time you will experience different techs, its all part of it.

They might do another six months, then you go into the long stretch of annual visits, until the voltage level indicates it is time for the next one.  Note it can take years from when it appears to start getting close to when it is close.  the estimate in the printout is generally wrong until the units are in months or weeks.  

Ask for a, or I say "my" copy of the printout as they are making one for the doctor.  A good habit even if you dont know what any of it means.  If nothing else at least someone here knows what it means and you can just ask.  Usually the printout has a before and after, what it was set to when you got there and when you left and often highlights changes.  Normally no changes are needed, if there are any you can ask the doc right then (good idea), and/or ask the forum here.

The second, third, fourth, etc replacements might fool you into thinking you are a pro at this, I had one that I did that, got a stiff sholder, was not fun.  In general the replacements are quick, in and out (couple-few hours or so all told), unless there is a lead problem can go home the same day.  You will have forgotten all the details of the last one so have to re-live those.

Anxiety is unfortunately part of the first device, each of us takes a different amount of time and have different fears we are working through.  It can be months or a longer part of that first year, but this will pass.  And in general its only the first device, the transistion from no device to having a device.  Second and third and ... devices not a problem.  You are used to the new normal so if a new device does strange stuff then you will know it and can call them to have it checked.  I had that on device number five.

Believe it or not, the reality is you will forget about the device most of the time, right around replacement before and after of course.  the periodic office visit.  But like your belly button or a toe you know you have them, but dont really think about them unless you bang it into something, and you think about it for a short period of time then forget again.  the pacer is the same way.


You know you're wired when...

You have a 25 year mortgage on your device.

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Good luck with your surgery. It will improve life amazingly.