Newbie

Hi all, I had a pacemaker implanted on 7/1/2007 for what my doctor described as severe Bradycardia which came on very quickly (weeks). I was a very healthy 52 year old fitness nut. I am now having a difficult time adjusting as I have some days that I feel great and others that I feel very tired and still have some dizzy spells if I get up quickly etc. I am interested to know other peoples' experiences after implantation.

Dave


9 Comments

tired

by jessie - 2007-07-04 09:07:24

yes well mine came on suddenly as well but come to find out i may have ahd rheumatic fever before i went to school in fact positive i did. my brother and i. he ahs a pacemaker too. he got his earlier than me but was sicker from what i can understand. all are dead now so none to really ask, lol oh well of course i feel tired at times but i feel better than the 4 months befroe i got this. there were some days i could not walk a step and talk about short of breath. so here i am grateful for the pacemaker and the friends i have made because of it. not bad not bad at all. jessie

It gets better!

by hooimom - 2007-07-04 10:07:26

Welcome Dave,

It does get better for most of us. I got my PM 7/18/06. It doesn't seem like a year ago that I couldn't breathe easily and felt exhausted every minute!

Getting my PM was a difficult adjustment for me. I cried for almost 2 weeks. I had a complication and had a chest tube for 3 days so I was very sore and just miserable. I had heard stories about people who were up and going 2 or 3 days after their implantations, so I just assumed at 42 mine would be a breeze---wrong. It takes a little time to get our energy back. I was exhausted, dizzy, sick to my stomach and quite worried about my slow recovery. Looking back on it, it is amazing that recovered as quickly as I did. I really didn't take the time I should have to rest and recover. I began to feel much better after 2 weeks but it took a few months to totally recover. I pushed it alot though.

It is a "simple" surgery according to the doctors, but this is an adjustment to a new life really. Some things that we have always done are more difficult now. My shoulder bothers me at times. And I am not quite as indestructible as I once thought! I wouldn't change a thing though. The alternatives for us are not good ones, so I have learned to appreciate my PM and enjoy the new life.

Keep a good attitude. I think that is half of the battle. Rest when you are tired. Enjoy those good days and do the things you feel like doing. Ask questions--your doctor or here and get information about your PM.

Michelle

Newbie with a PM

by CathrynB - 2007-07-04 10:07:51

Hi Dave,
Welcome to PM Club! This is a great place to post your concerns/questions and get information from people who actually have PMs.
I'm 50 years old and got my PM in January. I don't think of myself as a fitness nut, but I'm very active -- a runner for 30 years, hiker and mountain climber, scuba diver, kayaker, bicycle rider -- almost any sport that doesn't involve being a spectator. First indication I had any problem was when I fainted twice at work one day in November. It took a couple months for doctors to decide I had bradycardia (heartbeat in the 30s and 40s) and sinus bradycardia (pauses in my heartbeat of up to 5 seconds, half a dozen times daily). I had dizzy spells.

The pacemaker has completely solved my cardiac problems and I'm not fainting or dizzy anymore. However, it took a couple months of appointments with the electrophysiologist to get the proper adjustments made to my PM settings to completely eliminate the dizzy spells. You should discuss any symptoms you have and see if adjustments can solve them. At this point though, your body may also still be processing the anesthesia out of your body -- very athletic people sometimes metabolize those more slowly, and that can cause blood pressure drops. Do you have a blood pressure cuff so you can check it while you're standing up?

You've only had your PM 3 days, and I think you're expecting too much of yourself if you expect to feel "normal" yet. I took 10 calendar days off work, then returned half-time for another week, and took a nap every afternoon for 3-4 weeks post op. My energy was good when I was awake, but I got really tired and sleepy every afternoon for about a month. Healing almost always takes longer than our doctors tell us it will, and there are lots of folks on this site who feel it took months to be back to 100%.

Follow doctors orders strictly about not raising your arm above your shoulder, but other than that, your doctor will tell you what activities you can begin when. I started walking 2-4 miles daily almost immediately. I began running, swimming and biking again at 6 weeks. Now I'm back to my regular running regimen.

While lots of folks have some complications that take a while to sort out, if you take it easy and give yourself time to heal, I predict you'll be feeling really well and back to most, if not all, of your previous activities relatively soon. Weight-lifting and scuba diving seem to be two activities some people can't resume again -- and contact sports, of course.

Keep us posted on how you're doing, and best wishes for a speedy and smooth recovery. Take care, Cathryn

Pacemaker Results

by SMITTY - 2007-07-04 10:07:59

Hi David

Welcome.

I’ll first express an opinion abut the dizzy spell you experience when you get up quickly, as this is as problem I have occasionally. They tell me it is the result of something called positional hypotension. That is caused by a quick and sudden drop in blood pressure, which results in the brain not getting enough blood flow for a few seconds. This can be caused by several things, but mine has most often been caused by some medication I am taking. Almost every time I get a new heart medication (I get a new one to try several times a year) and after taking it for a few weeks or months the problems go away.

Now I’ll talk about mine and other people’s experiences with pacemakers. Not that I’m an expert in the field, it is because I have had one for seven years and it has truly been a roller coaster ride. From what I’ve seen posted here and my own experiences I would say people getting a pacemaker experience a much better quality of life, euphoria, pain, the deepest of deep depression, puzzlement and about any thing in between that you can name.

One of the biggest problems seems to be lack of knowledge about what the pacemaker will or will not do for the patient. I fault the doctors for that lack of knowledge. They tell us that a pacemaker will do this and that for our heart rate. The make it sound like it is a never fail proposition. Sure most of them give the patient a little pamphlet that lists some of the adverse effects that can result from getting a pacemaker and it may even tell us some of the wonderful things a pacemaker can do. But at that stage of the game most of us know so little about pacemakers we cannot comprehend what we are reading. In my opinion, if they were implanting these things in robots I’m sure they would be correct 99% of the time. But humans are not robots and since we are all different getting a pacemaker is no sure cure.

We have to face it, a manmade device is being mated with our heart and it is supposed to be able to take over some of the functions of our heart and anticipate others to make our heart work better. For a pacemaker to perform as it should with each heart beat, it has to first check out what our heart is doing at that instant. Therein is the source of one of big problems with pacemakers. Hell, our heart doesn’t know what it is going to do every beat. If it did, we would never PAC, PVC, V-Fib, A-Fib or any one of several other heart problems which I do not even know about.

It is the imperfect mating of the manmade device and our heart that can create problems. Yet when we ask our doctor about a problem, we are likely to be told, “That is not caused by your pacemaker as it is performing as it should.” I always figure that statement is because the doctor has no hint of what is happening. But since he knows we think he is the PM expert, we will accept his word and it will buy him a little time to see if the problem will just go away. Or, we may be told we should come in for a checkup as our pacemaker may need to be adjusted or fine tuned.

Now I’m going to give some unsolicited advice. Your PM is new so while you can make notes of the problems you were having before you got that PM so that you don’t have to rely on memory. Now as new problems related to your heart, or your entire chest area occurs, keep notes of them. Hopefully you will never need any of this recorded information, but if you do it will be priceless. Too many times I was asked when such and such started did and has it gotten better or worse since the beginning. I have been faced with these requests for information a number of times since I got my PM in 2009 at age 71. Even at that time my memory was on vacation more than I though it was entitled to, and it has not improved since. I’ve been keeping notes for several years now and I could not do without them although I’ll admit most of the information in my notes is never needed, but, I’ve got it just the same.

One last word and I’ll stop. If you have a problem that YOU think is caused by your PM, you can give it a few days to correct itself, if it is not severe. But my experience says that a PM problem very seldom corrects itself, so you should never hesitate to contact your doctor.

Good luck,

Smitty

3rd time around part 2

by goodoscar - 2007-07-05 01:07:14

oops forgot to mention I'm now 41 and went through 2 pregnancies and normal deliveries with pm.

3rd time around

by goodoscar - 2007-07-05 01:07:46

Hi Dave,

I got my first pacemaker when I was 24 and just had my third generator change this past Monday. I remember way back when being accutely aware of every change or fluctuation in my body. I felt extremely out of control at the time. This will go away. Although I still think I notice things physically that others probably don't. I remember being dizzy a few times and having weird sensations. But that goes away with time. I think there is a big psych component to getting a pacemaker (especially when you are younger and had only thought of it as an "old persons' problem (no offense to anyone out there!) You will feel better with every day and once you have resumed your regular life style you will think about it often but in a very different way.

Newbie

by IanMcC - 2007-07-05 05:07:12

Hi David, lots of good advice and info here as always, Everyone sure helped me feel more normal both before and after pacer, Im 51 fit, dont smoke or drink, and have SSS bradicardia plus the gaps in the beat, mine stop for 4 seconds, It happened while driving on the highway the last time with my wife beside me,everything went black,very scary, that was the last time, I got myself straigt in for the pacer.Its been 10 months now and Iv just noticed that I havnt had any dizzy spells for months, the ones you get when you stand up from sitting down, so they must have lasted for about 3 months or so, after the implantation.
Watch out for the bruising coming out at about day 4 or 5 you will feel as if you have been kicked by a mule.
Everything aches, dont worry it all gets better and better as time goes on.I went back to sea after a week, just worked carefully for a few weeks.
All the best, Ian.

Thanks!!!

by davidv - 2007-07-05 08:07:22

for all the wisdom. I felt so alone with this. I went to the ER expecting to be told I had the flu and go home and rest but ended up with a PM!! One more question, should I still have the fluttering feeling every once in a while? Is it the PM kicking in?

Thanks,
Dave

fluttery feeling

by CathrynB - 2007-07-05 09:07:35

Gosh, it's only been 5 months and already I'd forgotten about the early days with the fluttery feeling. I've read lots of different explanations for that, and it's probably not something worrisome, but you should ask your doctor about it when you go in for your first checkup. Some say it's feeling a stronger heartbeat when the PM is pacing you, some say it's the high voltage setting they give your PM in the hospital (they'll turn it down after a few weeks or months), some say it's something of more concern -- so don't worry about it as long as it's not causing pain or keeping you awake at night, but do ask your doctor. Mine went away after they turned down the voltage and my body had adjusted a bit after 3-4 weeks.
Most of us don't know anyone with a pacemaker, so we feel really alone when this happens. That's what's so great about this site -- now have you dozens of friends who have pacemakers and care about you and can answer your questions. Take care, and keep us posted on your progress, Cathryn

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As for my pacemaker (almost 7 years old) I like to think of it in the terms of the old Timex commercial - takes a licking and keeps on ticking.