New Member - Sitting in Hospital Post Op

Hi Guys and Gals,

 

im a 38 year old male that was diagnosed with 3rd degree AV block and just had a pacemaker installed.  I've been in denial for a few days but want to live a long life for my beautiful child.  I'm literally sitting in the hospital bed typing this.  I'm glad there is a support group out there and I hope to learn more about living a full and happy life.  I just hope I can continue to do HIIT and weight lifting.  Also wondering if I'm going overboard with wanting to buy the seatbelt cushion, Apple Watch to monitor my heart, ECG portable device that connects to your phone, etc.  

 

Thanks All!


8 Comments

Wishing you a speedy recovery

by Gemita - 2020-09-03 04:45:45

Welcome and I send my best wishes to you.  I am sure you can look forward to living a long and productive life with your beautiful child and family for many years to come.  

My initial advice is to recover and to recover well from your procedure and then to think about what you want to achieve and the gadgets you might need to buy to monitor yourself.  For the first six weeks, try not to raise your arm (pacemaker side) above your shoulder or to carry anything heavy with that arm (like shopping) and to follow the wound care instructions given by your clinic.  Ask when it is safe to resume driving.  Keep gently moving pacemaker side arm though, otherwise it could become very stiff and painful in the shoulder which would take a long time to heal. 

From personal experience, having a pacemaker has brought immense relief and improvements to my life and I am sure it will be the same for you too.  There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be able to perform your usual activities with a pacemaker, once healed from the procedure.  You could discuss with your pacemaker team what you want to achieve after the healing period.  They may be able to refer you to cardiac rehabilitation physiotherapy services for an opinion if you ask, to discuss with them how to build up ”safely” your exercise training programme and when you can resume your normal activities.

You sound a bit like me in wanting to know what is going on with your heart, wanting to monitor how it beats and whether it throws any wobbles !  All healthy stuff providing we don’t go overboard and spend all our time monitoring ourselves instead of living our lives.  The pacemaker will take good care of us without any input from us, but the more we can learn about our health condition which led to us needing a pacemaker and our individual pacemaker settings, the better for us since we will then be able to understand and discuss with our doctors what pacemaker “adjustments” may be needed in the future to help with exercise or to improve any symptoms that may remain or develop.  But be patient, there is a lot to learn.

I am an Apple fan so an Apple watch sounds ideal.  I am also aware that the Kardia mobile device, especially the new 6 lead device is a useful buy.  We could then make an immediate ECG recording and either retain these for discussion at our next hospital appointment or send immediately to our doctors for a full analysis whenever we feel our symptoms warrant this.  As for the seatbelt cushion, you can use whatever padding you have available (small cushion, cleaning sponge for example) to place between your device and seatbelt without spending any money.

hi

by Tracey_E - 2020-09-03 09:31:27

Glad you found us! I too have 3rd degree av block, got my first pacer at 27. I'm turning 54 this month, am healthy and active. You can absolutely do HIIT and weight lifting once you heal. I do Crossfit, run, hike, kayak, anything I want. You are probably going to find that you have significantly more energy now that your heart is beating in sync.

Seat belt cushion, hold off and see if you need it. Most of us do not once we heal. Try a folded up washcloth if it's a problem while you heal. 

ECG, unless you have some crazy arrhythmias (sounds like you do not) IMO it's completely unnecessary. AV block is the easiest condition to fix with a pacer. Our sinus node usually works normally so our heart is setting the pace. The signal gets blocked on the way to the ventricles so the pacer watches for the atria to beat and makes sure the ventricles keep up. It's playing follow the leader. Other than that blocked electrical signal, we often have perfectly normal healthy hearts.

Apple watch, that's up to you. It is easy to get obsessed with checking our pulse. Try hard not to go there. If you feel bad, count. Otherwise, trust the pacer to do its job. That said, I love my apple watch but heart rate is the least of the reasons why I love it. I like to run without my phone so use the watch for music and tracking and I like seeing text messages at a glance. My rate tends to get too high when I run so I do walking intervals to bring my rate down and the watch is helpful with that. 

It takes some time to get used to having the pacer, to stop constantly paying attention to our heart rate and learn to trust the pacer to do its job. That's perfectly normal at first! But don't go crazy buying a bunch of stuff. Before you know it, this will be your new normal and you will realize you went days without even thinking about it. You will probably get a home monitor at your first follow up. If there ever is a problem, you can hit a button on it to send a download to your doctor. I keep mine wrapped in a towel, shoved under the bed. It just needs to be within 10' of where I sleep, nothing says I have to look at it lol. If you got a Medtronic, they have an app you can put on your phone. These toys are cool, but not necessary. In 26 years paced, I've never had more than the most minor of problems. Most of the time I forget it's there. You'll soon get there too. 

Seat belt pad

by AgentX86 - 2020-09-03 23:07:44

Others have covered most of what you need now.  One thing missed was a warning not to use a sling.  You have to move your shoulder so just do your normal routine within the normal constraints (hand no higher than the shoulder, not behind the back, or arm fully extended).

I have a different take on the shoulder pad.  For $10, maybe $15 for a real sheep.  I found them to be well worth it.  After 2-1/2 years, I still use mine.  It's a lot more comfortable than having the belt touch my PM.  The belt covers can be positioned where you want it and they'll stay there.  You'll find what works for you but I found that it should be positioned on on the sternum so the belt passes over the PM and wound.

Welcome

by doublehorn48 - 2020-09-04 10:27:49

Welcome to the club.  The people on this site are very knowledgeable.  I'm always amazed at how much they can tell you when you have a question.  All the comments that you've recieved are spot on.  Since my  pm is set at a range of 60 - 150 I never check by blood pressure.  It's always in that range.  When I was younger I could get my upper level over 160 but not anymore.  I was 38 when I got my first pm.  My youngest daughter was 4 yrs old.  I was concerned that I would never see Sarah's 20th birthday.  Sarah's now 36 and she has 2 children.  You need to stay active so when you have granchildren you can be the grandpa that runs with his grandkids and not sit on the porch and watch them run.

Have a gret life,

m. scott

Seatbelt cushion

by Persephone - 2020-09-05 11:05:32

I second the advice about a seat belt pad!  It has been invaluable to me as a driver in the US where the belt goes across the left shoulder.  They can be found at low cost, and I could not do without it as my device protrudes quite a bit. While I check heart rate during exercise via my carotid artery, I don't use heart rate monitoring equipment beyond the "CardioMessengerSmart" box that I was provided when my Biotronik device was installed.  It sends data to the device manufacturer and my cardiology clinic.  Each night at a prescribed time the PM does a self-check that I can feel (short period of heart rate increase).  If you have a similar experience with the self-check and don't like the timing, you can ask for a change.  Best wishes to you and your family.

I'm 5 days ahead of you

by Betsy A - 2020-09-06 01:16:36

Hi there,  I'm a fellow newbie. I got mine last Friday, after an ablation put me in total heart block.  I'm still I'm shock a bit also.  I'm glad to find this forum,  we aren't alone.  No advice from me,  and thanks for sharing your story 😊

Adapting

by Persephone - 2020-09-06 15:32:50

Best wishes to you, too, Betsy. Hoping you feel improvement with your new device. Take care and give yourself time to get to used to your new normal.

I’m Also 38.

by IronMan13 - 2020-09-06 16:42:34

I'm 38 and received my device about 6 weeks ago. I've have an Apple Watch that I bought last year to monitor my heart before I had my surgery, but I don't think it's really necessary to own one. I am 100% ordering some sort of seat belt apparatus though. I can barely handle wearing a t shirt yet... a seat belt feels like a straight up torture device. I just joined this forum today, so it's comforting to see I'm not the only person my age with a pacemaker. 

You know you're wired when...

Your license plate reads “Pacer4Life”.

Member Quotes

I am just now 40 but have had these blackouts all my life. I am thrilled with the pacer and would do it all over again.