Surgery on Thursday for a pacemaker

This is all new and a bit unexpected to me, but long story short, I'm having surgery in a week.  I have to travel to Seattle for this surgery.  Is getting dressed after surgery and the week following?  I imagine pulling on pants or having a pull over head shirt will be difficult.  So, I guess I'm just wondering what you all did that first week.  I have got a lot to learn about all this and appreciate this club!  Thanks!



Getting dressed is ok

by crustyg - 2020-04-10 05:02:49

Once you spend a moment thinking about it (you can even practice now) you realise that you don't need to raise your arms above your shoulders.  You'll be fine.  You can put your arms through a polo shirt with shirt and arms below your chest so while the shirt goes over your head your arms aren't above your shoulders - same level but not above.

Reaching for things from the top shelves (home, supermarket) is more of a problem - we tend to reach instinctively and that's more difficult to control.  But even a reach or two isn't going to break anything.

These days as almost all leads are actively fixed (they have a little metal helix that screws a short way into the heart muscle), with leads of the correctly chosen length (they aren't all the same) it's very uncommon to have a lead dislodge in the first few weeks after implantation.  Folk who *do* have this complication have usually done activities or exercises that they were specifically told to avoid - golf swings, chin/dip pull-ups, heavy bench pressing of weights etc.

There are probably more folk here who report a frozen shoulder from excessive immobilisation of the side where the leads went in than folk who report a dislodged lead in the first few weeks.  Whatever you do, don't put your arm into a sling post-implant.  It's not necessary and it's positively harmful in quite a lot of cases.


The first few days after PM insertion

by Selwyn - 2020-04-10 05:42:05

Where I had my PM it is normal to stay overnight and then have a chest X-Ray next morning to make sure your lung has not been pierced during the procedure ( the top of the lung lies very close to the vein that is used to reach the heart with the lead from the PM). I remember walking down to the hospital shop to get a news paper before my CXR was due.

You can use the arm as it becomes more comfortable. Best to put the sleeve onto the lowered, affected arm first and then pull up the sleeve towards the head, and over, then the good arm. Buttons can be difficult! Best avoided. Zips are easy with the other arm. Anything from the waist down is not a problem.

I could not continue swimming until the wound was well healed ( about 4 weeks). I was cycling within 48 hours ( the arms are kept still) to keep fit, and I was not allowed to drive a car for 1 week after the surgery. Riding a bicycle seemed a good way of getting around if you are confident that your PM is not causing problems. Walking is not a problem. I am not a keen runner, though I don't see why that should be a problem if you were doing this prior to your PM.


by AgentX86 - 2020-04-10 10:18:46

I made sure I had button down clothing.

I stayed overnight, not because of the PM rather the AV ablation but didn't have an x-ray before being discharged. This certainly isn't universal.

button shirt

by Tracey_E - 2020-04-10 10:54:21

You won't want to be pulling a shirt over your head the first few days so take a button up shirt. I also preferred a tank to contorting to get a bra on the first week or so. It's really not that bad! 

It's not that bad

by Trunkmonkey - 2020-04-10 16:38:04

I am post op a month now. I didn't think too much about it but the other comments are accurate. You don't need to put your arm above head to get your shirt on and off. I was released the same day. Just take it easy for 4-6 weeks. The COVID crisis really helps as everything is shut down and they just want you to chill at home. I am left handed and that is a pain at first. Also I was expecting pain and there wasn't really any. The skin above the PM felt itchy while it was heeling? Overall its not a big deal. Good luck!


by atiras - 2020-04-11 07:40:34

I found it useful at night to wear a very baggy t-shirt and keep my left arm inside it so that I din't move it above my head while I was asleep.

Infact, for a few weeks everything I wore on my top half was baggy and/or elasticated. To get my bra on, I wore a non-wired seamless number, did it up and then pulled it on like a t-shirt.

Recovery really isn't hard

by Gotrhythm - 2020-04-12 15:01:10

Oddly, the only trouble dressing that I I had was tying my shoes. Although for the most part I had next to no pain, bending over was uncomfortable--but only for a day or two.  

As someone else has pointed out, it is completely possible to pull on a tee shirt without putting ones arms overhead. Still, people who are not as flexible might do best with a shirt that buttons.

Follow the wound-care instructions. Otherwise, don't stress over recovery. Do use your arm--just be gentle. Totally restricting its movement isn't a good idea. 


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