Post Implant Trauma

I had a nearly fatal event that resulted in getting an implant. How long does it take to get over the trauma of the entire experience.


5 Comments

Trauma

by AgentX86 - 2021-01-31 11:37:16

Trauma is a tough thing and no one can tell you how you're going to react to your close call.  Think: PTSD.  Some soldiers come back and adjust without problems.  Others are taumatized for the rest of their lives.  If it conginues for much longer, I'd seek professional help.  I'd strogly advise against drugs, however.  If you go this way, seek a good psychologist who deals in PTSD.

Your long-term prognosis is largely up to you, though.  You need to get past what you've experienced and move on to the life you're now going to have.

Expectations

by Persephone - 2021-01-31 11:53:47

Dear Gil - while my implant experience did not follow the same trajectory as yours or Agent's, I'm quite confident that I would not be here replying to your message if not for my implant several years ago.  We're all different people, and setting up expectations for how long it will take to feel better emotionally may not be that helpful.  Care for yourself as you would a close friend or a loved one, and remember that your implant is there for you, for the physical part.

A therapist could help you work through your feelings of trauma.  A lot of people also find help in practicing mindfulness - it doesn't have to be anything structured... just some time here and there to consider your feelings with a goal of learning to accept these feelings as part of yourself - neither good nor bad, just you.

All best wishes for feeling better each day.

Short answer, you don't. But things do get better.

by Theknotguy - 2021-01-31 12:56:28

Gil176:

Not knowing what happened, it's really hard from our side to say what you'll be going through.  And what you go through can have a big impact on how you recover.  

My story....  Walking down the pet hiking trail with my son's two dogs.  Great day.  Had just talked with my cardiologist and he said I was doing everything I could to help myself.  Turned the corner to go on the exit trail, everything went black.  Next thing I know, nurse was shaking my arm saying, "You've been down too long, we have to get you up and moving."  Then she said, "You're in a hospital".  Had kinda figured that out.  "You have a pacemaker." That explained the sore left shoulder.  "It's Wednesday."  Wait a minute, last I knew it was Friday!  

I was on a drug called flecanide.  It was supposed to slow my heart to control afib.  But I'll tell you when flecanide goes bad, it goes bad all the way.  So instead of slowing my heart, it stopped my heart.  And I'll tell you from past, painful experience, when your heart stops, nothing else works either.  

Fortunately there was another person on the trail and saw me go down otherwise I'd be coyote meat and very dead.  She called EMT's.  They got there and did CPR.  Broke all the ribs on my right side and collapsed the lung.  They got me to a hospital where they spent all afternoon trying to get my heart re-started.  Nurses broke ribs on my left side and they put me in a six day coma - otherwise I would have died from shock.  They waited five days to see if I would live.  They had me on a temporary pacemaker, then implanted the pacemaker I have now.  Waited one more day, then woke me up.  

Recovery time for me to get back to a "normal" status was two years.  I had the broken ribs, a really sore right side from having a chest tube, a  recovering collapsed lung, pneumonia from being intubated.  My heart was going crazy because I was on new medications plus I had the pacemaker.  EMT's had beat the snot out of me doing CPR so I was recovering from the physical beating and my mind was all messed up from the powerful drugs they had used to keep me out for six days.  I couldn't even walk up stairs and needed a walker to walk.  Needless to say, I was a mess.  

I was in a rest home for about six weeks but that is another whole story.  Went to heart rehab.  Also went to rehab because they had re-separated my right shoulder doing CPR and had damaged my left shoulder.  Then my blood pressure went all over the place.  After I finally made it home, I was allowed to walk upstairs and downstairs once a day.  I wasn't allowed to drive for three months.  I had heard people who get pacemakers can go into depression so I started seeing a psych to help with that.  It would take me about two hours to get up in the AM, get dressed and have breakfast.  I'd walk 800 feet around the cul-de-sac by our home, then take and hour nap.  Have lunch, rest some more, take another walk and take another nap.  

While all this was going on I had to get medications adjusted and have my pacemaker "tweaked" to match my problems.  I kept doing more and more, eventually walking over 1.5 miles a day before I started heart rehab.  After two years I was finally in good enough shape to volunteer at the hospital where I was in a coma and got my pacemaker.  

This is the condensed version of what happened as there was a lot more.  I don't know how many times I was clinically dead as they never told me.  But I do know they spent all afternoon trying to keep my heart going before putting me on a temporary pacemaker.  

Can you get better?  Yes.  Can you get back to a life similar to your previous life?  Yes.  Is it going to take time?  Yes.  Will there be some lasting effects because of what happened to you?  Yes.  Do you forget all the bad stuff?  No.  Will you reconcile your previous life and your new life?  Probably.  It's just going to take time.  How much time depends upon your body and more importantly, your attitude.  There was another person and myself on the forum who went through a similar experience.  We used to joke about getting t-shirts and hats that said, "Death!  Been there....  Done that...."  Sometimes you just have to spit in death's eye.  And the people on this forum helped.  It's nice to know someone else may have gone through the same problems.  Not to mention they sometimes have better answers than the doctors.  

I hope this helps.  If you want to PM me on this forum, you can.  Like I said, there are details I won't get into on the open forum.  Just too grizzly and in some cases too personal.  Probably the same for you.  

I'm going on eight years out.  Life is better than before I had the sudden death experience.  I feel every day is a bonus day, every hour is a  bonus hour, and the minutes are precious to me now.  

I wish you nothing but the best.  

Trauma

by Sisterwash65 - 2021-01-31 13:02:32

Gil 176 you don't say in your post if you knew in advance that you had any heart issues. I think it's the rule, rather than the exception, that we feel traumatized after an ICD or pacemaker implant that we didn't anticipate. Until the date of my implant - 5/28/2020 - No one had ever mentioned PM to me. Give yourself a chance to absorb all that's happened. Then make a conscious decision to be very grateful...For advances in medicine and technology, for the people in the hospital that were there when you needed them - Everything you can think of that made a big difference when you needed one.

Like Persephone said, mindfulness is the key. AgentX86 also had some good points. Just remember, what you're feeling is not unusual. It's a lot to take in, just give yourself time.

Info on longitudinal course of PTSD

by Asystolapalooza - 2021-02-10 23:26:21

The following is a whole bunch of geeky info for your consideration.  Please be aware that it's not intended as treatment recommendaton or professional advice.  I hope it can be useful, though.

Some general info on exposure to traumatic events and PTSD.  Not everyone who is exposed to life threatening or traumatic events gets PTSD.  Incidence varies depending on a number of variables about the situation and the person.  Symptom intenisty and dissociation at the time of the event tend to predict an increased likelihood of later PTSD.  Milder reaction at the time of trauma and afterwards tends to predict absence of PTSD later on.  The research does not support the common belief that people who seem okay at the time of a trauma will "pay for it" later.

For people who go on to develop PTSD, symptoms tend to increase over the three months following the traumatic incident.  On the other hand, during that time period about 50% of people who initially show smyptoms of PTSD will no longer meet diagnostic criteria due to symptom remission.  If someone continues to meet criteria for PTSD at 3-6 months post trauma, it is extremely unlikely that symptoms will remit on their own.

Treatments with the best efficacy rates in multiple, controlled trials include Prolonged Exposure (Foa) and Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD (Resick).  Efficacy rates and effect sizes for medications tend to be poor.  Other treatments, such as EMDR, show mixed results (some studies show efficacy, some show results no better than placebo) compared to first line treatments.

Hope that helps!

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