so is it normal to feel like this

So I gotta admit since I got the pacemaker in early June I've -- and i'm sure this is no surprise -- been super paranoid about cardiac things in general. That said, I did the 3-month checkup, everything was fine and all I needed was a cupla software tweaks.

So all had been fine -- been out bicycling and carrying on as normal.

But this week has sucked -- I made the mistake of watching the debate tuesday evening and had to quit because my chest was thumping, i was sweating, it felt like a full-blown panic attack. Either that or a heart attack, but I didn't die, didn't have any knumbness or pains or anything and failed to die.  

But the rest of the week I've been on edge and super-aware of how my heart is working (beating normally).  Anyone else just freaking in general or should I go get a checkup to make sure nothing else is going on with my heart?

 

Oh, I'm 71, weigh 162, generally healthy, asthma, am do have irritable bowel at times, like now, so take a lot of immodium. No fever, no covid. Pacemaker was because of low heart rate caused by level 2 block. No other issues found at that time. EKG was normal.


7 Comments

Please see your doctors

by Gemita - 2020-10-04 03:42:57

Hello Charlie,

I would go and get checked.  It may be nothing but the sweating and thumping of your chest would suggest to me that an abnormal heart rhythm may have been present at the time and caused your symptoms   Your doctors may want to do some monitoring for a short period to see whether you are developing an arrhythmia and which one.

I note you are on Immodium and this medication, although widely used, may cause cardiac arrhythmias.  Additionally I note you are asthmatic and probably using a nebuliser ?  This may also cause a pounding heart (palpitations) or a rapid heart rate (tachycardia).  

From personal experience bowel problems on their own can trigger heart rhythm disturbances for me so it is important that your doctors help you to find a safe and effective treatment for your irritable bowel and to look for other potential causes if you haven't already had investigations?  A referral to a dietitian might help too.

In the meantime, try to relax and not to focus on your heart.  The pacemaker will work well without any input from us and will keep us safe. It is natural at first to be super aware, I still am after over two years but I am no longer anxious that something bad will happen.  As you relax and start to trust your pacemaker, your bowel symptoms should improve too.

I would also avoid getting too involved in televised political debates.  Bound to increase our heart 💓 rates, anger and frustration as I well know!!!
 

 

Coping

by Sisterwash65 - 2020-10-04 08:39:29

I think anxiety and hyper awareness of your heart goes along with the PM implant. It's quite common and completely natural. Like Gemita, I would avoid politics on TV and anything else that really disturbs you. I read to get informed. It's a lot quieter ! 
I also found learning all I could about my pacemaker ( dual chamber, implanted 5/28/2020) helps you get a grasp of it all and educating yourself always helps.

It will get better with time.

Panic attack

by AgentX86 - 2020-10-04 13:31:57

It's apparent that your problem has nothing to do with your pacemaker, rather stress and perhaps even PTSD. The best thing you can do is find a therapist who deals with panic attacks and learn how to cope with the normal stresses of life.

thanks

by charlieinogden - 2020-10-04 14:23:13

I suspect you guys are all correct ... and thank you most kindly. The PTSD observation makes a lot of sense -- I have friends who have it from combat and it really feels similar, although I never did that.

 

My biggest problem -- as my wife will happily attest -- is that i worked for 42 years as a news reporter so I'm pretty much genetically drawn to train wrecks, and there's no doubt politics today is a 24-7 version of one of those.

But living in Utah, it's also true that absolutely nothing I do will change what i see going on, so I need to just unplug for the next month and this may be a wake-up call.

I've seen doctors half a dozen times about the IBS -- all they do is shrug and prescribe prescription versions of immodium, so I suspect that's a "live with it" situation. But if this keeps up despite unplugging I will go see them again.

 

thanks all -- very grateful.

Disturbing TV programs

by NormaLou - 2020-10-04 15:50:57

Charlie,

I can somewhat identify with your situation. When I watch a disturbing or emotional program on TV it will elevate my heart rate considerably. So, I tend to avoid such events. We may just be more sensitive to things of that nature.

If being upset doesn't work for you, choose different activities.

by Gotrhythm - 2020-10-04 18:55:35

Perhaps because I've had a pacemaker a lot longer than you, I've learned a few things about living with a pacemaker and a heartbeat that isn't always steady even under the best of conditions.

1. There is no payoff in worrying about your heart. If you are worried, ask yourself what steps you can take to solve the problem and make the worry go away. If there are no steps that you, YOURSELF can take, stop worrying.

It takes mental toughness, but like anything else, you get better with practice.

2. There is no payoff in putting yourself into a situation likely to be upsetting. I'm not talking about helping someone who needs help that you are able to give. I'm talking about hanging around with people who aren't happy and don't want to be, or situations that won't benefit you and are likely to upset you. And that includes TV.

You said something very important as you talked about your reaction. You said, "I didn't die."

Yes, your heart flipped and flopped and thudded, and even so, you didn't die. The pacemaker can do nothing to prevent palpitations whatever their cause, but palpitiations don't mean your heart is going to stop. Why not? Because you have a pacemaker. The pacemaker's whole job is to supply a beat if your heart doesn't beat on it's own.

Give your pacemaker a little pat and tell it thank you.

I mean this kindly: if having a pacemaker is a constant source of worry and fear for you, you're doing it wrong. Surely you didn't get a pacemaker so that you could be more worried about your heart for longer. Learn some self-calming and relaxation techniques. There are thousands. The best one is the one that works for you.

Living well with a pacemaker, having a pacemaker be a blessing that improves the quality of your life is far more mental than physical. 

Gotrythem's comments

by charlieinogden - 2020-10-09 19:15:34

Very well said ma'am ... yes, i need to hear that and act on it.  It is still being a learning experience, but hearing from folks like you is a real help. 

I got the pacemaker so I can watch my grandchildren grow up AT LEAST another decade, hopefully two ....

You know you're wired when...

You have a dymo-powered bike.

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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.