Facing your own mortality

Hi everyone :)

I had my pacemaker surgery a week and a half ago at 43 years of age, not really coping so well mentally, feeling quite overwhellmed with the thoughts of "facing your own mortality" have any of you felt similar and if so how did you overcome this?

With thanks

Wazz


16 Comments

Coping

by doublehorn48 - 2020-02-10 20:13:56

I was 37 when I got my first pm.  I'm now 71.  There are a lot of people that have had pm's for years.  You're a whole lot closer to facing your own mortality when you get into a car.

Have a great long life,

m. scott

I’ve felt it too!

by arentas80 - 2020-02-10 21:18:15

Hello!

I know what you're going through. I got my first PM on 12/30/2019. It all happened rather quickly. I was extremely frightened and could not believe I was having heart problems at 39. Day by day it gets better. We are all going to die one day. I'm just thankful we live in an age where technology is so advanced. I couldn't imagine going through this 100 years ago with no help at all. Don't let the fear control you. You control it! Make the best of each day and do your best to have no regrets. I wish you a speedy recovery and a full/great life!

~Alejandro 

Facing Mortality is Good

by Swangirl - 2020-02-10 21:20:32

It's brave of you to face your mortality instead of being in denial and delusion, but to realize that this beautiful life is not going to last forever.  While it's somewhat traumatizing to have a health crisis like you just had, it's the aftermath that is often more troubling as you confront what this means for your future.  

For you this might be a major mid-life crisis where you look at what isn't working in your life, the things that you are stuck about and want to change but can't quite figure it out.  Maybe it's what you always wanted to do, be, or have and it's time now to get some traction on those things.  Making every day count is probably the best thing you can take away from this event no matter what the age.  We are blessed to have this technology to keep us going so we can get it right.

Coping

by AgentX86 - 2020-02-10 22:56:48

I coped with my pacemaker the same way I approached my CABG. I need it to get back to normal, or perhaps even survive.  Life on the other side will be even better.  Guess what?  It is. 

You can dig yourself an ever deeper hole or climb mountains.  Your choice.  Sometimes professional help works but the strategy is the same.  Accept the reality that you're better with it than without.  It doesn't matter where you were.  You're here now.

You'll be okay

by Leemandy 2019 - 2020-02-11 04:55:14

Hey dont stress, you will be okay. I got my first pacemaker when I was 25 years old. Its been 6 years now and im doing just fine. I meditate alot and do some yoga too when I feel overwhelmed. It really helps me alot. 

It's a shock

by Violet West - 2020-02-11 12:04:31

It's always shock the first time one faces a potentially life-threatening medical crisis.  I think we all go through that realization -- "I could die!"  It's not pleasant, but it's what life is.  

In my opinion, unless one dwells on it in a negative way, the shock eventually recedes into acknowledgment.  Sometimes there's even a silver lining, in that we appreciate all our present moments more. 

perfectly normal

by dwelch - 2020-02-11 12:37:37

I got my first pacer at 19.  before I was your age I had been paced for half my life, for some reason that was the big mental hit not the teenage one.  teenagers generally dont have mortality concerns that we do after we mature (or as the average age gets that much closer).  a few years ago my EF dropped (likely from having almost 30 years of pacing with only one ventrical lead), so facing an ICD earlier than most folks, what if I cant drive, cant work, decades before this kind of thing often happens. it was a two year process of echos and such and waiting to see if the biventrical pacer did any good or if things were going to go further downhill.  It came back so thats good, but point being, this is very common, it hits us all differently and how we cope is also personal.  A solution for one person is not the same for others.  I would not be here without these devices, simple as that, so I have been on borrowed time for most of the 32 years with a pacer, I see that as a benefit not a fear, use this time the best I can to make a difference, not waste it worrying about how close/far the end is.  Likewise I understand my problem and understand the tech and with this tech it is an easy problem to solve.  Just like most of us dont get killed by our appendix as we had in the past, or other issues that we now take for granted.  Pacemakers seem to have some social negative, based on lack of education of the masses, but they are not uncommon and they can solve problems and keep you alive.  I would focus on the I used to have a problem, why didnt I figure it out or see someone sooner, but now its found, can be fixed/managed I can move on living my life with less risk.

If your concerns/fears are based on science/tech then those specific questions can be asked here and maybe the answers may help.  General depression, or other, maybe seek professional help, just like pacemakers shouldnt be some negative social thing, seeking mental health help should have no more negatives than seeing a doc for anything else, colds, flu, broken bones, chronic pain, etc...unfortunately society is not that mature/educated in general.

 

 

 

 

Mortality is just a state of mind

by cagedliberty - 2020-02-11 13:43:47

Mortality is a state of mind. Thinking about mortality is a state of an active mind. I think part of the thinking comes as an after effect of having to make such a major change in our lives. 

It has been seven weeks since my surgery (at the time of writing this) and though I could create a long list of things that went wrong or are still not going well for me, I would like to share my one life saver. Friends and family.

My daughter flew in to help me out. My high schooler son would come home from school and hang out with me so I didn't feel so lonely. My best friend drove me to my appointments and took notes so I didn't have to try and remember what the doctors said. Some family friends came from Canada and Florida to visit me. Without people to remind me how loved I am, I don't think I would have made it as far as I have.

Additionally, I have been focusing on setting goals for myself to change the focus from the negative to the positive. Currently, I give myself the task of accomplishing one task each day that I can be happy about. Sometimes, just being able to make my bed is an acheivement because I have a frozen left arm that plays up and makes doing anything painful. I am also trying to get back to driving and I have managed to get out a few times to the local store. And then every evening I try to remember at least one accomplishment I did that day. Yesterday, it was doing my laundry and putting them away. Today, it might be writing this message of encouragement to you.

So thinking of your mortality can be a good thing. If you know you will die, how will you want to live?  For me, my mortality has taught me to try to be more grateful for everything I have that makes my life worth it. I am sure you have things that make living worth it too.
 

Mortality

by Electric Boogaloo - 2020-02-11 14:43:23

I had my first Pacemaker when I was 5 days old, so it's always been a thing for me. I suppose it was just little things, like not being able to use the monkey bars because of it pulling the wires, or missing school to go to my yearly check up, but I always felt different to the other kids in the sense that they never had that hanging over them. The didn't have to sit down because their heart hurt, or not be able to play rugby in PE, or limit their time on devices, or go the hospital every year, or every six months, or even just having baby pictures where they weren't hooked up to wires. I understand how it can really seem unreal at times. People ask if it feels different to have a Pacemaker, but I wouldn't know because I've never not had one. It can seem at times that you're facing your mortality while watching others breeze through life without a care in the world.

pscemaker

by ROBO Pop - 2020-02-11 20:49:00

Since when is a pacemaker a death sentence? Cut the drama and get back to living.

Hell yes!

by JennyFromHeartBlock - 2020-02-13 02:20:28

I'm 37 and terrified. Just got mine implanted 4 weeks ago. I'm hoping as time goes on it's less scary. But I'm with you, this is a trip. Hope this thing works out! Good luck to us both! 

Hell Yes

by Good Dog - 2020-02-13 11:56:24

It is absolutely normal to be scared and to think about your own mortality when you get a PM. I got mine a week after I turned 38 and that was 33 years ago. I went through a pretty severe depression, but eventually realized that I could do anything with a PM that people without a PM can do. I started playing competitive basketball and softball and began working-out about six months after the PM. 

So like everything else in life, those feelings will pass. A pacemaker does not preclude living a long and normal life. You should be careful not to think that the problems you read about here are a fair representation of the average PM patient. They are not.  The vastt majority of people with a PM live completely normal lives in every way.

State of Mind and New Opportunity

by Rockwell78 - 2020-02-14 14:08:29

I am almost as new to this as you are.  41 years old and received my PM 4 weeks ago (1/16/20).  I know exactly where your mind is.  The first 2 weeks of recovery following my procedure were difficult and heavily focused on "everything I can't do now".  I often apologized to my supportive husband for being in a funk and that I just needed to have a self-pity party.  There were tears when my usual workout day would come and go while I was resting on the couch thinking "I wish this had never happened to me".  I tried to distract myself with reading, binge watching t.v., and some face time sessions with family just to chat.

Now, 4 weeks into recovery, I'm physically feeling better and sleeping better which I think has contributed to me feeling more like my usual positive self.  I've reset my state of mind to stop thinking of what I can't do and started thinking that I can't waste this opportunity to try new things. Yes, for now, I won't be jumping back in to Zumba class. . . but I can try that yoga or Barre class I've been curious about to continue my recovery and stay physically fit while I get used to life with my PM. I also gave my PM a name, Motley, so I can talk about him or write his name on the calendar for my dr appts since he's a part of my life - more positive feeling to say his name then the ominous word 'pacemaker'.  (Motley named for Motley Crue "Kick Start My Heart").

I can only say hang in there and give it time.  Your mental state will improve along with your physical state during recovery. Don't be too proud to lean on the support systems you already have in your life either - family, friends, PM Club, etc - they'll be the people that will help you bounce back and feel more normal again. 

Mortality and the PaceMaker

by Montanan - 2020-02-14 14:21:20

I have to think most who have had this surgery have ventured down this lane of thought a few times; I know I did.  I had my unit installed the last day in the year of 2013.  For a period of time, I seriously wondered when I was going to fall over d.e.a.d.  Like most anything else new, I thought about this device (my life not necessarily hanging in the balance in the event of battery or device failure) for what seemed to be non-stop.  Eventually I learned to trust it and the function it provided to keep the upper and lower chambers of my heart in sync.  I was diagnosed with 'complete heart block'.  So, here I am more than 6 years later typing away here in this group... feeling grateful to be among the alert and living souls.  As individuals, I'm going to guess in most cases, it'll take a while (a long while or a short while, depending) to get to where you trust the device to consistently perform as expected.  To be honest, I rarely give it a second thought anymore, and I got to that point after the first few months of having it installed. I also have a synthetic aorta valve that has been part of my life for the past 3 1/2 years - aaaah, I think of that one on a regular basis.  :-)

 

Thank you

by wazz - 2020-02-14 19:37:54

I would like to start by saying a very sincere thank you to everyone that has reached out and taken the time to write to me, although I don't know any of you, your support and kind words to me have really made a difference and have defininately given me a "new mind set" to process this and for that im very thankful to all of you. 😁

Wazz 😁

I'm with Robo Pop - sorta

by AgentX86 - 2020-02-15 01:01:40

I didn't see having a pacemaker as a big deal at all. It was a simple procedure and perhaps a bit of a nuisence but that's about it. I knew it was needed and would also make me feel much better.   I didn't really mind my CABG surgery either, though I'd rather it were fixable through a catheter. In both cases, I knew it was  necessity so didn't sweat it.

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In fact after the final "tweaks" of my pacemaker programming at the one year check up it is working so well that I forget I have it.