Motorcycles and Work After Pacemaker Implant

I'm 35 and will be getting my first pacemaker in the near future after five years of irregular heart rhythm related issues have kept me sidelined. I saw older posts  on this, but wanted to get some direct input from the community. I have a job that allows me to work from home as needed for my health. I also am a biker and have been missing my bike due to severe symptoms this past month. How quickly can I expect to perform work related tasks on the computer from home? Also, and very importantly, how quickly can I hop back on my Harley?

Thanks everyone!


9 Comments

welcome

by dwelch - 2019-12-26 04:29:47

Welcome to the club.

How soon can I is one of the more common questions here and countless answers.  I am on device number 5, 32 years into this.  

How soon can I varies based on the thing.  First night, no sleep, discomfort, cant really lay down cant really sit up, you will try to go back and forth between both.  Second night for that week maybe into the second sleep is in small chunks maybe an hour or two at a time.  Each night getting better.  Sleeping on the pacer side is maybe second or third week.

Washing hair with both hands varies by person and varies relative to comfort sleeping.  Lifting things varies by person, docs keep upping the amount of time from weeks to months, dont need to wait 3 months to pick up your kid thats silly.  At the same time toddlers dont seem to remember that they cant climb or bump that side so you will always get some hands, elbows, knees to the pacer (and will want to wait for the incision to heal before putting yourself at that risk).  Everything you do in your day to day life has a different recovery time, some things are days some things are weeks.

Note all of this varies, by person and by pacer/age/etc no hard and fast rules on how each of us recover.

Being able to work on your computer, probably day after or a few days after, depending on the definition of work seeing as there is some pain, trying to use the pacer side arm/hand may have some discomfort, and how much sleep you got and how productive you really can be.

I used to warn my employers that it would be two weeks off, and usually its a few days and I am back to work despite the total recovery being measured in weeks.  Work in my case being driving to work and mostly sitting at a desk with a computer.

Driving a car/truck is one thing depends on if you have a manual or automatic (how much you need that arm), some levels of vibration while driving that can cause discomfort.  Seatbelt is a lifetime problem use a sock or something not over the device but say just under it so the belt is bridged and not touching the device, later a fuzzy seat belt cover works okay.   

The harley on the other hand, I would expect a lot more vibration coming up through the arm on the pacer side as well as feeling the bumps of the road more than a car, and needing the arm more.  So will have to just try it out after so many days or a week or two in.  Take it around the block and see how it goes.  Be safe about it you dont want a pain jolt from moving the skin around the incision to cause bad steering input, failure to brake, etc, that hurts you or someone else.

You are young, it is your first device, so the young part means a faster recovery than if you were twice your current age.  The first device thing you have no idea what to expect, so you will be going through this first time. you will have a lifetime of devices and that aint no thing I have leads almost as old as you.  Each new device/surgery is not exactly the same as the last, after a few you think you are a pro and then end up with a stiff shoulder because you were being careless.  but at least the second through Nth device wont be your first you will have a vague recollection of what happens, but in reality you do forget most of it from one to the next, most of the life of the pacer you dont really think about it any more than a belly button or a toe, until you stub it on something, but that passes quickly.

You will be able to ride that harley "shortly" after the device.  Tracey_E and others may point out that if you have rate response turned on then the vibration may trigger the device to think you are being more active and may jack with your heart rate.  If you have it and dont need the rate response you can have them turn it off if it becomes a problem like that.  Expect to have a few week checkup and a few month checkup and maybe another that first year then annually.  So there will be opportunities to see them and ask these things.  But at the same time dont ever hesitate to call the doc, you will most likely get a nurse or someone else, but if the question or symptom cant be resolved that way they can/will schedule you to come in.  All part of the process.  This isnt like an appendix, one and done, this is lifetime maintenance and your doctors office is prepared for that.

 

Thanks!

by G33K - 2019-12-26 10:27:16

Thank you, dwelch! That was very helpful!

Harley?

by AgentX86 - 2019-12-26 11:04:25

Getting back to your computer should be pretty quick.   My job is pretty much all computer work (and meetings !-).  I was in the hospital overnight, came home the next and was back at work 48hrs after the surgery.  I had the additional complication of a femeral vein catheter wound (but I've had a lot of these).

I don't have a Harley I wasn't able to drive (anything) for a week. DW has covered most of the rest.  You may have a different situation than others, so listen to your doctors and device tech.  They'll explain the limitations, as well as wound care (probably aong the lines of "LEAVE IT ALONE").

DW mentioned seat belts.  It's not a problem in the passenger seat (assuming a typcal left side implant) but driving is a whole different issue.  I bought one of the sheepskin shoulder harnes pads.  Don't put it across the shoulder, as designed, rather across the middle of the chest to raise the strap off the pacemaker.  Though I could probably get away without it, I still use it.

I'm curious.  You say that you now need a pacemaker "after five years of irregular heart rhythm related issues".  Could you explain a little more. Pacemakers can only make the heart beat faster so they can't do anything about most irregular rhythms. This is unusual so perhaps it's a chance for us to learn something from you.

Clarification

by G33K - 2019-12-26 11:23:21

Thanks! As for the underlying condition, I both had a unique arrythmia as well as severe tachycardia. The arrythmia was fixed through the four different ablations I had but the severe tachycardia just got progressively worse to the point that I've barely left the house since Thanksgiving due to the severity of the symptoms. It took five years to get to this point simply due to my age--doctors wanted to put me through all the meds on the market and multiple other procedures first. Now they'll be fully ablating part of the heart and installing the Pacer. Just waiting on my insurance but they have it listed as "urgent."

"fully ablating part of the heart"

by AgentX86 - 2019-12-26 22:58:31

Not sure what this means.  From your description, it's hard to know what's going on at all but a pacemaker cannot fix tachycardia.  As I indicated before, they can only make your heart go faster, not slower.  If your tachyardia is SVT (supra ventricular tachycardia), i.e. a tachycardia coming from above the ventricals (atria), an AV ablation can cut the pathway from the atrium to the ventricals thereby elimating the possibility of SVT.  A pacemaker will then take over the natural pacemaker and provide pacing directly to the ventricals.  The atria are then out of the picture completely.  This is the final alternative and shouldn't be taken lightly.  Note that the above is all a SWAG based on what little you've said.

I've had this surgery for permanent highly symptomatic flutter (after three failed ablations for it) and drugs that damaged my SI node.  It works - it sorta has to but is not to be taken lightly. There is no way back.

Please don't question my understanding of the seriousness of this.

by G33K - 2019-12-26 23:10:25

Look, it was late after a long day of my heart  going 140bpm most of the day, so no I didn't use the exact terminology.  AV ablation followed by pacemaker is what I intended to describe above. As I said, I've had four different ablations and have tried every other treatment out there over a long and taxing period of five years. I'm hardly taking it lightly.

Pacemaker recovery

by jakte - 2019-12-27 19:23:51

It is stressful going through this.  The pacemaker is a relatively simple deal in most cases.  I  was lucky as I went back to work early to a physical job.  Some reading implies although the restrictions reduce after a month to 6 weeks that healing can actually continue for months.  I am fit and engage in martial arts.  I was cautioned about lifting or placing myself into a situation where I would sustain injury to the site or stress the leads before healing is complete  4 to 6 weeks.  I waited for months for hard workouts just to be safe.    I have a large MC and did not ride it for months.  Trying to lift a 700 pound bike that either tips over,  or have to catch it or get into an accident would not be a good idea until you are fully healed.  I would suggest using caution my friend.  I do not have tachycardia but if your heart is racing at times and could cause dizziness I would be careful about being on 2 wheels.

Pacemaker recovery

by jakte - 2019-12-27 19:23:51

It is stressful going through this.  The pacemaker is a relatively simple deal in most cases.  I  was lucky as I went back to work early to a physical job.  Some reading implies although the restrictions reduce after a month to 6 weeks that healing can actually continue for months.  I am fit and engage in martial arts.  I was cautioned about lifting or placing myself into a situation where I would sustain injury to the site or stress the leads before healing is complete  4 to 6 weeks.  I waited for months for hard workouts just to be safe.    I have a large MC and did not ride it for months.  Trying to lift a 700 pound bike that either tips over,  or have to catch it or get into an accident would not be a good idea until you are fully healed.  I would suggest using caution my friend.  I do not have tachycardia but if your heart is racing at times and could cause dizziness I would be careful about being on 2 wheels.

Update--Doing Awesome!

by G33K - 2020-01-22 15:14:35

I had my pacemaker procedure 1/6 and the AV node ablation a week later. I now feel amazing and had noticable improvement even the day after both were completed. I'm now back to work, light exercise, and have clearance from my doc to hop back on the bike Valentine's Day weekend. I am so grateful for my pacer and my quality of life is already 10 times better!

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