Post PM Living and Fears

Good evening. New here. I am three weeks into having my PM and I love it BUT I can't get past the fears of leaving my house or hotel room (comfort zones). I have been told by my cardiologist and my echocardio doctor that this is normal and nothing is going to happen to me. I have VERY high anxiety issues. Please feed me some good insight please. This is driving me insane. 

Thank you all. 


Living with PM

by Persephone - 2021-03-20 20:46:43

Hi Markhart66 - I shared similar feelings to yours after PM implant, but had the benefit of not going through this during a pandemic, as you are!  These are especially trying times.  At any rate, I sought therapy from a psychologist.  It was an incredibly helpful experience that I would recommend to anybody going through or considering a major life change.  Wish I would have started earlier due to my lifelong anxiety issues.  One of the main take-aways that has consistently helped me is deep breathing:  4 in through the nose, hold for 5 (or as long as comfortable), slowly out through the mouth for 6.  This has helped me get calm and settle down.  I hope you are feeling better soon.

Breathing exercises

by AgentX86 - 2021-03-20 21:24:54

This is a very useful tool to have in your arsenal.  Stress triggers the sympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system.  The part of the brain that is responsible for the fight-or-flight mechanism is stimulated, raising blood pressure and anxiety to the max.  This, in turn, releases a rush of hormones (like adrenilin) needed for survival when the tiger in front of you is hungry.  At the same time unecessary functions for immediate survival are shut down (digestion, etc.). The brain doesn't need any consious input, in fact it's surpressed.  Survival is a lower brain function.

If this were the only system in the body, we'd be higher strung than the Flying Wallendas.  Countering the sympathetic nervous system is the paragsympathetic system.  This portion of the autonomic nervous system is reponsible for reversing the sympathetic system.  When the a threat is deemed non-threatening, the parasympathetic system kicks in, turning off the fight or flight mechanisms, drying up the hormones feeding the body's heightened allert state.  The result is the breathing slows and deepens, the blood pressure drops, and the higher brain takes over more responsibility for processing information. All of this is needed to direct all of the body's resources at the task of preservation, then to resume to its normal state.

Interestingly, not only does activating the parasympathetic nervous system cause breathing to become slow and deeper but the opposite also happens.  Slow deep breaths triggers the parasympathetic nervous syetem, telling the body to stand-down from DefCon-5.  This causes the body to relax and even drops blood pressure, significantly. If you do deep breathing exercises before the nurse takes your BP, it may have gone down as much as 20pts.  ;-) 

Edited to try to make sense. It didn't.

Crap!  Still didn't.  Hope it's right now.

Breathing, it actually works!

by Julros - 2021-03-20 22:37:01

I found myself dealing with a great deal of anger and anxiety after some unpleasant encounters with healthcare people. I have sought counseling but have not found that as helpful as I had hoped. Breathing exercises however, have helped. there are various patterns, such as box-breathing and the one that Persephone described. I use an app on my phone to guide me through. Also, progressive relaxation has helped. 

As far as anxiety about going out, I went to work the next day at my rather sedentary desk job! I was so weak and short of breath before my pacer, that I was anxious to get back to life. I did have quite a bit of pain and trouble sleeping, but to not be huffing and puffing was such a relief. 


by Persephone - 2021-03-20 23:22:54

Your story is inspirational and helps me feel braver, Julros - thank you for sharing.   Agent - I found your explanation so calming in itself... understanding the brain-body connection gives us a tool to carry on in the face of adversity.  Getting outside (or just taking a cool shower) and getting exercise also help turn down the fight-or-flight mechanisms.

perfectly normal

by dwelch - 2021-03-23 20:34:10

I have CCHB my heart was getting too big by the time I was 19 and the doc said it was time, cant put it off any longer.  You could see the heart beating between my ribs (pushing other things into my ribs but you get the idea).  So I felt every heart beat every day.  Woke up with pacer number one.  Disturbing silence.  Took me months to truly get over it.  I would take my pulse regularly to see that my heart was beating. 

I am almost 34 years into this journey on device number five.  My devices have never failed me once, and I am not the most gentle person on them.

if this is a distance from the take home box thing.  I went all of those years minus one without one of those boxes.  The only reason I have a take home box is because of the pandemic and I didnt want to go into a big hospital where the docs office was during the peak last year.  So I got this box, which I only turn on every few months when they call.  My first doc had no phone in boxes or anything like that saw him once a year, thats it, then in the last few years twice a year, was on my own and working fine since.

Depending on your condition you may have noticed a change that you are getting used to.  It may be anxiety producing but at the same time, the newer better heart/rythm is your indication that all is well.  Your house is just as good as the park down the street for your pacer, or your car on a drive or a ride.

I cant say everyone of us as some folks are mentally tougher than the rest or have some other deal, but many of us have anxiety that first so many months or year.  Despite websites like this we all freakout the first time we have a static electricity zap, or use some new device, I have not mowed the lawn with a pacemaker is that okay?  I have not washed the car, is that okay.  I have not used the stereo.   These things are all perfectly fine, and despite us saying it you are going to get axious and not believe us but you will get past this, you will get comfortable with your newer better life. You WILL forget you have a pacemaker someday, then look in the mirror or bump it and then say "oh yeah, I have a paceamaker there"...(it is like a belly button or a toe you have those too but dont dwell on them either).

If you need to talk to someone about it, do that, if you need distractions, do that if you need information, come back to this site, hang out with Tracey_E (or others), you will get more info than you can absorb at one time.

Good luck, I have no worries that you will move on past this and enjoy your new life.

Box breathing and mindfulness!

by asully - 2021-03-24 18:40:22

I too suffer from terrible anxiety, and toss a medical issue in the mix and it's guaranteed anxiety.  Like others said breathing helps so much, better than any medicine I have taken in fact.  Before my open heart surgery in November I practiced box breathing, like the Navy Seals are trained to do in combat to calm their nervous system.  I figured if it works for Navy Seals in combat it surely will work for me, and it did.  Anytime I feel that surge of stress hormones I remind myself to breath and start counting it out. It seems hoakie but I have had great results.  The nurses in preop probably thought I was crazy lmao!  Mindfulness is sort of like meditation, it's focusing on the present.  Clearing your mind and just feeling, smelling, hearing what's around you in that exact moment.  When your mind starts to wander off on some future-tripping anxiety storm just gently tell yourself to focus on the present.  The more you practice the more it becomes habit and eventually you can train yourself not to let anxiety lead you around.  Good luck!  Please reach out if you are still struggling!

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