my first

I am scheduled for a 3 wire on June 6th. I really have no idea what to expect. Most tell me it is easy. I have read a lot of negative things here.
I have also had 4 heartattacks.
the ast then bypass and then the bypasses collapsed one at a time and I had 3 more. Now this!!! I am stressed, and worried.
I have read aboput depression and I have had enough of that. the heart problems and losing my husband recently--enough.
i Also have seizures that started at age 34 and never knew why.
Recovery----how to do everything with one arm, pull pants up and down, so my hair,etc? Feelings after, pain, worried about pulling wires loose and so much more.
I don't know how to find the responses to this post either.
I have read a lot of them.
I can't get the address to CONTACT to go through, it bounces, so I couldn't ask them questioms. What is wrong with that address, I just clicked on it and it bounced back.
If you can help me and give me some idea of what I am facing please do, or mail me.
Thanks Lana


6 Comments

raising arm and driving

by lana - 2007-05-20 02:05:34

I have to drive----what do I do???

The only way to fix my hair is with curling iron and both hands.

What about pulling pants up and down?

Sleeping on that left side, is normal for me, what to do??

I am worried about blood clots.
Puncturing an artery.
So many things, I have been through enough and this is so stressful.
I don't even know how I am going to get there, it is in Dallas, TX and I don't drive in those big cities.
I will have to find directions too and pray there is someone to get me there and back. It is about a 2 1/2 hr.hrs away.
Thanks for the welcomes.
Lana

My First

by SMITTY - 2007-05-20 08:05:43

Hi Lana,

We each have to find our own level of activity so far as our arm is concerned after a pacemaker implant. This is because so much depends on the exact location of the pacemaker and the physical build of the person. For those of us a little on the hefty side, or for those that are muscular, the doctor can usually make a pocket far enough below the surface for the pacemaker that arm use is not as critical as it is for a “skinny” person. I should point out that my comments about the skinny person is strictly based on what I have read some of them say. Also, the skill of the doctor on implanting a pacemaker is critical. Like any surgery, there are good doctors and some not so good.

Now with all that said, barring the totally unexpected, your arm should not need to be immobile for any amount of time. I dressed myself (which included putting on pants) from day one. I was careful not to reach for a glass on the top shelf of the cabinet with my left arm for a few days and I didn’t pick up anything heavy, but I was driving three days later. I would have driven before that but my wife wouldn’t hear of it. I guess what it comes down too is you have to use common sense when following the guidelines you will be given. The most important one being if it hurts you probably shouldn’t do it yet. Some people put their arm in a sling but I never did.

As for sleeping on the side where you have the pacemaker, don’t worry about that. I was a left side sleeper and my PM is under my left collar bone. For the first several days it hurt too much to even think about sleeping on that side. I would go to sleep on my back or my right side and in invariably I would roll over onto my left side and the soreness would wake me and I would find another position. Today I can sleep on either side, back or stomach. In fact, since about the 2nd month I have made no allowances what-so-ever for my pacemaker and I never have any pain in that area.

You have had bypass surgery. Take the word of someone who has been there, recovery from a PM implant will be many, many times easier. Also, a PM will not make you change your life style as much as that bypass surgery did.

You mention concern about doing your hair. Well I’m no expert on hair fixing, but try something. Try holding your elbows tight against your side and see how far upon your head you can reach. Then tilt your hear head some. I have no idea why I had to do that, unless it was shaving because with a face that sags as much as mine does, I have hold it to shave all the wrinkles and crevasses. Whatever it was, that worked for me.

Like Suze said, don’t worry too much about getting your pacemaker, it really is not all that bad.

Good luck,

Smitty

You WIll FInd A Way

by hooimom - 2007-05-20 10:05:27

Hi Lana,

My doctor's biggest concern about my driving was that I would reach out to close the door and stretch! Just be careful with that arm. Don't reach to close the door and stretch.

I have long hair and I would sit down, flip my head over between my knees and carefully put it in a ponytail keeping my arms by my side. It wasn't gorgeous, but it was up and out of my way.

To sleep prop yourself up with pillows and get comfortable however you can. You will probably get a sling to sleep with that will keep you from lifting your arm while you are sleeping.

Most people go through a PM implant with no complications. The surgery is fairly simple. My doctor gave me an IV and I woke up in recovery. The incision isn't large. I have a small lump under the skin where my pacemaker is. I have had mine for 10 months now. It really doesn't bother me too much now. It did get tender from time to time in the beginning, but I don't even think about it now.

You have been through a lot in your life. You sound like a strong woman--a fighter! You will be fine. I know it is a scary time. Sometimes we only hear the bad things, or read posts with people seeking answers for problems but there really are many people on this site living happy and healthy lives with their pacemakers. You will have a few weeks when you will have to be creative and careful with your arm, but after that life will get better.

Let us know how you are doing!
Michelle


Not that bad

by Suze - 2007-05-20 12:05:38

Please put your mind at ease. After everything you've been through you'll probably think this proceedure is a snap! I was experiencing a fluttering heart (atrial fibrillation)intermittently all during my pacemaker implantation. The doctor said if my proceedure was a success, anyone's would be. It was one of the most difficult surgeries of his long career, but also one of the most rewarding because today I'm doing so great! And you will be too!
I had no problem using my arm and shoulder, as long as I didn't reach up over my head. And even that is only for 4-6 weeks.
So relax and know you will be doing much better in no time. I'm glad Smitty could give you the technical details. (althought I have never had a phone check -- I go in to the original pacemaker doctor's office every 6 months). I still see my regular cardiolist every 6 months, also. It depends on you individual medical needs.

Anyway, welcome to the Pacemaker Club. And remember, the negative things on here are fairly rare. Most of us don't have any major problems.

Keep us updated and God Bless

Suze

Pacemaker Surgery

by SMITTY - 2007-05-20 12:05:50

Hi Lana,

The following is long, but it gives a pretty good descripton of what takes place when a person has a pacemaker implanted. At least it describes almost exactly the procedures I had getting my pacemaker 7 years ago.

My advice is take a deep breath and dont' worry. Getting a pacemaker implanted is not any where near as bad as what you have been through. I had quadruple bypass surgery some years ago. I guess the one big difference is I never had a minutes problem from my surgery.

I which you the best.

Smitty

What Should I Do to Prepare for the Procedure?

Your doctor will give you instructions to prepare for the surgery.

How Are Pacemakers Implanted?

Endocardial approach. This is the most common technique used. This procedure is performed by an electrophysiologist (cardiologist specializing in catheter procedures to treat abnormal heart rhythms) in a Pacemaker or Electrophysiology lab. A local anesthetic (pain-relieving medication) is given to numb the area. An incision is made in the chest where the leads and pacemaker are inserted. The lead(s) is inserted through the incision and into a vein, then guided to the heart with the aid of the fluoroscopy machine. The lead tip attaches to the heart muscle, while the other end of the lead (attached to the pulse generator) is placed in a pocket created under the skin in the upper chest.
What Happens During the Procedure?

The endocardial pacemaker implant takes about two hours to perform.

You will lie on a bed and the nurse will start an intravenous line (IV) into your arm or hand. This is so you may receive medications and fluids during the procedure. You will be given a medication through your IV to relax you and make you drowsy, but it will not put you to sleep. The nurse will connect you to several monitors. The monitors allow the doctor and nurse to check your heart rhythm, blood pressure and other measurements during the pacemaker implant.
Your left or right side of your chest will be shaved and cleansed with a special soap. Sterile drapes are used to cover you from your neck to your feet. A strap will be placed across your waist and arms to prevent your hands from coming in contact with the sterile field.
The doctor will numb your skin by injecting a local numbing medication. You will feel a pinching or burning feeling at first. Then, it will become numb. Once this occurs, an incision will be made to insert the pacemaker and leads. You may feel a pulling as the doctor makes a pocket in the tissue under your skin for the pacemaker. You should not feel pain. If you do, tell your nurse. After the pocket is made, the doctor will insert the leads into a vein and guide them into position using the fluoroscopy machine.

After the leads are in place, their function is tested to make sure they can increase your heart rate. This is called "pacing" and involves delivering small amounts of energy through the leads into the heart muscle. This causes the heart to contract. When your heart rate increases, you may feel your heart is racing or beating faster. It is very important to tell your doctor or nurse any symptoms you feel. Any pain should be reported immediately.

After the leads are tested the doctor will connect them to your pacemaker. Your doctor will determine the rate of your pacemaker and other settings. The final pacemaker settings are done after the implant using a special device called a "programmer."
What Happens After the Procedure?

You will be admitted to the hospital overnight. The nurses will monitor your heart rate and rhythm. The morning after your implant, you will have a chest X-ray to ensure the leads and pacemaker is in the proper position.

You will be shown how to care for your wound. Keep your wound clean and dry. After five days, you may take a shower. Look at your wound every day to make sure it is healing. Call your doctor if you notice:

Increased drainage, bleeding, or oozing from the insertion site
Increased opening of the incision
Redness around the site
Warmth along the site
Increased body temperature (fever or chills)
Your pacemaker settings will be checked before you leave the hospital.

You will receive an ID card that tells you:

The type of pacemaker and leads you have.
The date of the pacemaker implant.
The name of the doctor who implanted the pacemaker.
Will I Be Able to Move Around After the Procedure?

You may move your arm normally.
Do not lift objects that weigh more than 10 pounds.
Do not hold your arms above shoulder level for a long time. Avoid activities that require pushing or pulling heavy objects, such as shoveling the snow or mowing the lawn. Stop any activity before you become overtired.

For six weeks after the procedure, avoid golfing, tennis, and swimming. Try to walk as much as possible for exercise. Ask your doctor when you can resume more strenuous activities. Your doctor will tell you when you can go back to work, usually within a week after you go home. If you have the flexibility at your job, ease back to your regular works schedule.

Should I Avoid Certain Electrical Devices?

Electric blankets, heating pads, and microwave ovens can be used and will not interfere with the function of your pacemaker.

A cellular phone should be used on the side opposite of where the pacemaker was implanted. Cellular phones should not be placed directly against the chest or on the same side as your pacemaker.

You will need to avoid strong electric or magnetic fields, such as: some industrial equipment; ham radios; high intensity radio waves (found near large electrical generators, power plants, or radiofrequency transmission towers); and arc resistance welders.
Do not undergo any tests that require magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Your doctor or nurse can provide more information about what types of equipment may interfere with your pacemaker.

If you have concerns about your job or activities, ask your doctor.

How Long Will My Pacemaker Last? Pacemakers usually last 4 - 8 years, depending on how often it is used. When the battery becomes low, your pacemaker will need to be changed.

How Often Will I Need to See My Doctor?

A complete pacemaker check should be done within a few (2 to 4) weeks after your pacemaker is implanted. This follow-up appointment is CRITICAL, because adjustments will be made that will prolong the life of your pacemaker. Then your pacemaker should be checked every three months on the telephone to evaluate battery function. Your nurse will explain how to check your pacemaker using the telephone transmitter. Once a year you will need a more complete exam at a hospital or doctor's office.

If you have a biventricular (3 lead) pacemaker, you may need to visit the doctor's office or hospital every six months to make sure your device is working properly and the settings do not need to be adjusted.

the right site

by tachybrady - 2007-05-20 12:05:58

Smitty is the best, and he will find the most accurate information out there. Now, from a woman who has had a pacemaker, I will build apon the wonderful response from Smitty. The twilight, instead of being "out" was easier than coming out of full anesthesia. Not like when you go under. I chatted with my surgeons some of the time, so it went fast. I have never had the frightening heart problems that you have had. I cannot imagine what fears you are facing, but this is all through the vein, once they incise the small chest area. It is a day surgery, so if you are extremely anxious, you might ask your M.D. to allow you to stay one night. As for the arm. I did not lift mine for a month, and I was glad. I took baths instead of showers for the most part. I could drop my head, and raise my arm enough to carefully brush my hair and teeth. It is above chest level that stretching can pull the leads, so it is a little akward. Washing my hair was difficult. Can you go to the hair dresser as a treat? Or have a friend who can come over for coffee and a hair washing a couple of times a week? I know that it is not a time of glamour, but it could very well result in alot more energy, and the fact that you have LESS to worry about, because the pacer part of your problem is solved. I slept on my left side before the pacemaker. It has not been a year yet, but I still cannot sleep on my left side. This has been my biggest and longest complaint. It can cause some pain, so do get that issue resolved before procedure. I understand that you do not tolerate meds well, so please let your doctor know what you can use before the issue is an issue. I also had a little depression, which surprised the heck out of me. It passed, as did the discomfort. It is a safe feeling, knowing that I am not going to pass out anymore. They also tried to play the siezure card. It is scary, confusing, and I think that they make it sound too casual. Just remember, all of your doctors are there to help with your recovery. Your primary, your cardiologist, they can all help with symptoms or questions. It is a big decision, and there can be complications. I guess that you just have to weigh the benefits. I must tell you, having lost your husband recently, I am wondering if making any decision at all would be more than difficult. Be proud of yourself, whatever you decide. Couldn't your first decisions by yourself be easy decisions? This stuff is hard! This site is helpful, and you have been welcomed by Smitty, who is the best.

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