What to expect in recovery?

I am an active 68 year old woman who received an emergency PM implant 5 days ago for a complete heart block that developed very quickly.  My heart rate was 36 in the emergency room and I had significant shortness of breath with minor exertion for 3 days prior to hospitalization. A minth ago, I had a calcium ct scan which was fine and an echocardiogram to monitor my mitral valve, which has been stable for years. I was feeling very pleased with my cardiac health. I was so shocked that I developed such a significant issue so quickly and am still trying to process whar happened to me. 

After surgery, the cardiac team repeatedly told me that I was going to feel so much better with the PM. I don't know what the timeline for "feeling better" will be. While my resting heart rate appears to be fine, I have had rapid heart beat with minor exertion (110) - like walking across a room.  I go back to the cardiologist  on Monday for a wound check and hope to be able to have the fast rate assessed. Any advice regarding this?

I am very much missing yoga, acupuncture, and my tens machine that I have used for many years to cope with athritis and neuropathic pain.  I was told not to do any of those at least until the 6 week mark.  The Medtronic rep said they could do an in-office assessment of the tens impact on my PM afer 6 weeks. So, will see on that. Does anyone do yoga with a PM? Acupuncture?

Thanks for any advice. I am very glad to have found this site...Am feeling emotional and quite alone, despite the support of family and friends.


going forward

by Julros - 2021-06-19 01:21:11

Welcome to the club that no one wanted to qualify for. You will feel better, but perhaps not quite as quickly as quickly as your team seems to think. Everyone heals at their own pace, and getting the settings right for you can take some trial and error. It is good that the pacer rep is involved, because they know all the bells and whistles and possible tweeks. It is hard to say what has triggered the higher heart rate, but the pacer will have recorded it. 

Once your arm movement restricttions are done, you should be able to resume yoga, but check with the doc about any extreme stretching of the shoulder area. And as long as the acupuncturist avoid the pacer and wire area, there is no reason you can't do that too. 

Getting a pacer usually occurs quite suddenly, and it is normal for you to feel shocked and alone. You are esssentially greiving the loss of health and accepting that you are now relying on a chuck of hardware. But you have us now and we have been where you are.

I personally have learned so much here and have reiceved much support. And I have gotten a kick in the pants when I needed to be more assertive with my team. 

It does get better!!!


What to expect in recovery?

by TAC - 2021-06-19 11:00:59

Be patient. It' too early to expect a significant change in your condition. The heart will need to adjust having a device. The pacemaker will not make all your symptoms go away instantly. The device with prevent your heart beat from stopping or from going too slow. In other words, it saved your life.  However, if you have structural heart disease, the PM won't charge it. Anyway, time is going to tell how much improvement you will get. Incidentally, you might not be able to use TENS anymore.


by Tracey_E - 2021-06-20 12:05:32

Tens are generally not recommended, tho my doctor said on extremeties is fine, just avoid the torso. It's great that they are doing an assessment! Most offices would just say no rather than try it and see what happens. Newer pacers are very well shielded and very little affects them. Please let us know what it shows. 

Once you heal  yoga will be fine. Accupuncture should be fine now, though I'd ask about stim. 

Glad you found us! You are most definitely not alone. 


by new to pace.... - 2021-06-20 14:41:50

As soon as the stitches were healed started back on acupuncture to help heal the scar tissue. No problem with doing that as long as the person doing the acupuncture is licensed.

  Now occasionly have her do a touch  up in for that space. Its been now nearly 2 years since pacemaker implanted.

new to pace


by Lovesthesun41 - 2021-06-21 17:42:21

Hi Francophone. I am 67 and had my biventrical PM installed on April 1st. I practiced yoga prior to my PM and missed it during recovery. I waited until the full six weeks passed and probably two additional weeks. I have been back to yoga and have not had to worry about any poses. I have a bit of tightness in my left chest area but am working on getting back to the same or better than before. My one concession is that I need to wear a sports bra that is snug against my PM so that it does not move.  Once you get the OK from your doctor get back to it but listen to your body. Don't be afraid. Good luck!


by dwelch - 2021-06-22 08:14:46

recovery comes in stages.  First night or two, dont expect to sleep (you are past this).  First week or two, dont expect to get much sleep in a row, an hour or so, then sit up or walk around repeat.  Maybe a couple of weeks before you can sleep on that side or in your normal favorite position, and when you get sore in the other position, might have to get up and sit for a bit, etc.

Arm movement, need to keep it moving, dont use a sling, but let the pain guide you, "okay right now, today that is as far as that elbow can go".  So things like washing your hair with two hands, and other things like that these can be days to weeks depending.

Showering can be fun, I use medical/sports tape and plastic bags, definitely tape above the device and on the sides (give it some room).  then shower normal-ish (hair with one hand is fun).  Eventually the tape strips come off over the incision, I tend to find they eventually itch so I help the last strip or two the last little bit.  Certainly if it is not across the incision and not helping to hold it closed then no reason to have that strip on, just be careful removing (peel toward incision not away).

Driving varies, automatic myself and you will read others, driving after a couple few days.  Now I had manual transmissions at times so needed to steer and shift, even had a vehicle without power steering and manual transmission, that one did not get driven right after surgery, weeks later at best.  Basically if you can drive with most of the exertion on the other arm/hand then you are good.

Back to work, some if us a few days some of us weeks. Depends on the work.

I would be cautions about the tens device and acupuncture but yoga you should definiteinly get back, the other two ease back into them.

I definitely felt my heart block get fixed.  I could literally feel and hear every single heart beat my heart had gotten so big and was working so hard.  (mine was not an emergency took many years from diagnosis to pacer).  That immediately went away and was very disturbing for most of the first year to not have that constant heart beat feeling.  Not everyone has the same experience.  Most of us with a heart block, deal with the minimum limit at least most that have had it for a while, we are used to sleeping with a rate in the 30s and maybe a resting rate in the 40s.  (just had my check recently and am still in the 40s when they turn the pacer off).  so being jacked up to 50 or 60 as a minimum can also affect sleep or other things as you are now a bit wound up.  Took me a bit to be able to get back to sleep.

Allo of these things wlll pass. It will be like your belly button or one of the middle toes, you know you have it, but you dont think about it any more than you think about your belly button.


by Lalina - 2021-07-29 19:30:49

Hello Francophone,

Thanks for posting! I too had my PM implanted earlier this week. I am an active 65 year old. I had the same exact symptoms you mentioned prior to my heart rate going into the high 20's low 30's. Not sure why this happened! No explanation known.

Hearing from the group about pain under the arm and adjusting to your heart rate when you do a few things is very helpful. Also, adjusting to weird sleep as pain and change in sleep position requires patience and adjustment. I did get lots of advice about preventing frozen shoulder.

I am looking forward to resuming hiking, yoga and major weeding in my garden!

I am back at work doing remote research writing and taking it day by day. A few hours a day is just fine for now. I am back to my meditation practice, surely helps.

So glad I found this group, as all that is written on the internet to digest is medical followup instructions.

Fortunate we are to have this device availbale to us.

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