Nervous of ramifications

Hello Everyone, I am a reluctant new member to this club. I am due to receive a Pacemaker for Christmas, on 23rd Dec, and am trying to get my head around the change to come. I am 69 and have always been very fit, a regular gym goer for 35 years and runner. Apart from Sick Sinus and AFib arriving earlier this year I am otherwise healthy. Now I am worried that I will be opening a can of worms by having a PM. Will I ever be able to attain my previous existing weight training and aerobic ability? Will I have a great unsightly lump on my chest? How do you cope psychologically with having this device and its ramifications for the rest of your life?


9 Comments

Life will be normal

by Finn - 2020-12-15 10:53:03

Hi Simon,

im a male, 60 yrs old, 170 lbs, on my second pacemaker, initially implanted 2009. A runner, not a weight lifter but use the total gym.

yes, after a couple months you will be back to your work out routine , I am a caddy, I caddied 6 weeks after the surgery, , 

it is not unsightly, my new pacemaker cannot even be seen, except for the scar,  of course it takes time for the swelling to go down and hopefully your surgeon makes a nice incision.

half the time I forget I have it.

yoy will do great!

finn

Be prepared for a short wait

by crustyg - 2020-12-15 11:01:38

They almost certainly won't give you a sensible maxHR at first, while the leads bed into the heart.  I was stuck at 50/130 for about 6 weeks, and then had my PM adjusted (and explicitly tuned for road cycling) and was allowed 50/160.

I'm an occasional runner, used to run a lot (it's probably what damaged my SA-node), but I'm as active physically as I ever was before PM.  Yoga classes gave quite a few twinges from the PM pocket for several months - all that 'Open up your chest' stuff really stretches the anterior chest wall.

Did they give you a chance to get out of AFib?  Have they offered a cardioversion as part of the PM implantation?  If you're relatively recently in AFib, there may be a chance to get out of it - if they offer it, I strongly urge you to take it.  A=>V synchrony is valuable for an athlete and you might avoid long-term anti-coagulation (at least for a while).  If they haven't offered it, ask why not.  This chance may not come again.

Hope it all goes well for you.  The emotional impact is real, the no-driving for a week is a PITA, but just focus on returning to your previous levels of activity and get on with living your life.  I do.

Have no fear

by doublehorn48 - 2020-12-15 11:31:38

There are a lot of people on this forum that are just as active as ever with a pm.  It only makes your life better.  From what you said of symtoms I'm surprised if you haven't had a drop off in your exercise.  I never ran a full marathon until I had a pm.  I had my best bench press after I got a pm.  Pacemakers are getting smaller all the time.  They aren't that noticeable.  Leave your shirt on.  I'm 72 and I've had a great life with a pm.

Best Thing That Ever Happened

by FIT4LIFE - 2020-12-15 11:47:57

I am a 59 year old extremely fit woman.  I am an avid mountain biker, runner and fitness instructor.  Ever since I opened my eyes after the surgery, I have felt better than I had in a very long time.  It's amazing that I forgot what normal felt like.  It will be important to take your time with recovery.....I tried to workout too soon and I had swelling and soreness around the pacemaker for a few days.  As for being unsightly, I pretty much wear athletic type clothes everyday and no one has noticed or commented on the PM.

Good luck and remember, this is a good thing!

Will I ever be human again?

by AgentX86 - 2020-12-15 14:09:46

Certainly.  The more active you were before the more  likely that you'll recover just fine.  Going backwards after PM implant is a rarity and the upside possibility huge.  You may have to bug them (constantly) to get your new pacemaker optiized for your level of activity but it can be done (with very few exceptions).  If the pacemaker clinic doesn't get everything just right, to your needs, allowing your active lifestyle, soon (weeks or a few months) bug the hell out of your EP to make it right.  It's possible, just a little more difficult for some than others.

It may take more adjustments as time goes on, as your heart changes and as you change.  I Bringing our Christmas tree out of the basement (around the house and up a hill) I found myself pretty winded.  I know my PM doesn't like stairs but that was ridiculous.  I have an appointment with my PM clinic Wednesday to set my clock to standard time.  I'll  be bringing this up, then.  My watch can detect stairs "why can't my PM?".

Your life will be better

by FirstDuely - 2020-12-15 22:36:47

Find the following just posted titled

 LONGEST TIME - PACEMAKER DEPENDENT

Somewhere down about #6 is my rather long winded (I was a Science Teacher after all) "dissertation" detailing some of my history re: dual chamber pacers.

Bottom line is you will get through this just fine and, after a bit of recovery time and initial setups, live out your life as if you never had a problem.  It would be really nice to talk to people about their fears of surgery and after but this site seems to do well.  Relax, take a deep breath, talk to the very excellent people who'll be working on you and you will be out of there in no time.  Feeling fine...

I've done this routine at least 10 times in my last 35 years and happily waiting for dinner at a not old age of 70..  Maybe I should check back in in a few days if you have any questions?  I now ride a 2019 Trek Domane SLR7 road bike with disc brakes, Di2 electronic shifting, carbon everything and tubless tires on a Carbon wheelset.  I plan on riding this at least through my 80th year.  Exercise is my ticket to living each day.  My first 4-5 pacers I was awake the entire procedure.  That was very strange.  Just ask them to send you to dreamland.  And be sure to get an extra blanket for your feet.  Mine were always cold.  My next procedure is in about 5 years.  I'll let you know how that goes!!!!

Gary, in Hemet, CA

Nervous of ramifications

by Simon123 - 2020-12-16 08:00:12

Thanks for your encourageing comments. Having been lucky enough to have never ever in my life been in hospital before, I know my first problem is mental, accepting a new reality. Happy Christmas.

doing too much research

by Tracey_E - 2020-12-16 09:04:17

Keep in mind as you read the posts here that we have a lot of people with rare complications coming here for answers. Odds of any complications at all are under 4%, serious complications are well under 1% which means for every one person you see here with issues, there are thousands out there with no issues. It starts to look like that's the norm, but it truly is not. 

Like Fit4Life, I felt the difference the moment I woke up. I'm more active now than ever. I've been paced 26 years now and am 54. I hike, ski, do Crossfit, run, kayak. 

Re: a lump, talk to your surgeon about position. The easiest place to put it and to heal is just under the skin, just under the collarbone. They can go lower and deeper than that to bury it a bit. Or they can put it between the pectorals, that's where mine is. No lump at all. 

Re: psychological adjustment. Many find that the emotional healing is harder than the physical healing. While I understand that,I never went through it. I felt so bad before and I felt so amazing after, I've never been anything but grateful to have it. I found that as I healed and got back to normal, I learned to trust it more and stopped thinking about it as much. Understanding my condition and my device also made a big difference. I always go into appointments with a written list of questions. They all know me now, if something is changing we have a discussion and I activiely participate in decisions. This helps me feel in control, I can accept what I can understand. 

Ramifications for the rest of our lives... it's not nearly as bad as you are probably imagining. I have a home monitor wrapped in a towel tucked under my bed where I don't have to look at it. It does its thing automatically every 3 months. I have a check up once a year, usually with chest xray, echo and holter. Every 7-8 years it needs replaced, which is super easy and I'm back home fixing my own lunch. The rest of the time I live my life and don't think about it. 

You'll eventually forget you have one

by tuck3lin - 2020-12-16 14:16:44

I got my pacemaker when I was 50. I am 62 now. Although never a star athlete, I was always fairly active prior to the implant. It took me a few (4-6) weeks after the surgery before I felt comfortable getting back on the treadmill and into the gym. I started slow, as you probably should, and just let my body tell me what felt right. In my case, over the course of the next few weeks, I found I kept bumping up the treadmill speed until I was back at my pre-op running pace, and kept increasing weights until getting back to my normal lift, while staying somewhat cautious at first about my range of motion. In the spring I started running outside again, and did four years of 50+ miles/month and several 5K and 10K races. I was never a marathoner, so that was good for me. I've slowed down due to age as much as anything else, but still ran 300 miles this year so far. I've continued to hike and ski and do all the other stuff I did before. I have shifted over to mostly bad golf as my main sport now. I was back to a full range of motion a few months after surgery. I mow, do yardwork, and use a chainsaw.

Eventually, I just ended up forgetting I had a pacemaker and continued life as normal. The only time I think about it is when I have to go through a metal detector at an airport or sporting events. Even then, airport security always says there is no concern with the new detectors as they don't beep or affect pacemaker function when you walk through. I still inform them just in case, but a couple of times I forgot at a sporting event screening and just walked through.

It didn't end up being a life-changing event.

You know you're wired when...

You always have something close to your heart.

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A pacemaker suddenly quitting is no more likely to happen than you are to be struck by lightening.