Pacemaker

Hi, I'm writing this for my hubby.. The doctors want to implant pacemaker for bradycardia after evolving heart attack & stent placement earlier this year. Husband still has issues of shortness of breath & fatigued, dizziness lightheaded, meds were adjusted & switched, normally he was a active guy, worked on our farm, hay wood etc & worked as a woodsmen & in construction all his life.. Always on the go & very active..& he wants to be able to go back to work doing construction,using jack hammers & lifting at times etc etc..he was told that he should be able to go back to his former work but would need to be mindful of his PM & protect that area of his chest, also no big magnets 🧲 or generators.. we have electric fencing & also live rural & lose power so we will use a generator to get water to animals.. Been told none of this should pose a problem??? 
& that he doesn't have to disclose his PM to his employer??

So He's been trying to decide to go forward with implantation.. he wants to feel better & be more active again..

any advice on your experiences of before & after and whether or not you can return to your normal life & activity level would be greatly appreciated & helpful.. God Bless & Thanking you all in advance 😊♥️


3 Comments

no brainer

by Tracey_E - 2021-10-04 14:11:00

If his doctors say he needs it, and he's symptomatic, just do it. It sounds like he can't do a lot of his work now?

re: protecting the chest. Ask about having it implanted a little lower and deeper than they would normally place it. A lot of doctors like to do it just under the skin, just under the collarbone but that can leave it vulnerable if we are very active. Simple fix, bury it a bit so it's more protected.

re: magnets. A magnet has to be very close (less than 6") and very strong to cause problems. Many magnets, such as those in cell phones and other electronics, are too small to cause a problem at any distance. I have run our generator, I just get in and get out, I don't linger near it when it's running. As long as we keep them more than 6" from our device, they can't cause a problem. Even if we do accidentally get to close to one, it's not going to hurt us, worst case it'll switch to test mode until we get away from it. The puck they use to interrogate the pacer at the clinic has a magnet, so we all know what this feels like before we even leave the hospital because they will interrogate before we go home to make sure eveyrthing looks good.

A jackhammer may make his heart race, depending why he needs it and how the settings are. If our rate doesn't go up enough on exertion on its own, the pacer can sense movement and raise it for us. Driving on bumpy roads and the vibration of the jackhammer may trick the pacer into thinking we are working out. It's harmless, just know to expect it. If we don't need help getting the rate up on exertion, this can be turned off. 

I'm not sure about electric fences. I've been told to stay away from them but that was a long time ago it may have changed. (I got my first in 1994)

As long as it doesn't directly impact our work, in the US there is no need to disclose our health history. HIPPA laws protect us so we don't have to disclose anything we don't want to beyond a doctor's note saying we can go back to work. 

Rural area background

by Theknotguy - 2021-10-04 17:12:43

I came from a rural area background.  Worked on a dairy farm around the 2000 pound Holstein cows so am  familiar with that style of life.  

Assuming he's active as he can be, he should be able to return to that style of life with a few adjustments.  The first thing he'll have to do is to make sure he's completely healed before he attempts to go back to doing the lifting and moving.  The surface of the implant area will heal first but there is underlying tissue that has to heal too and that will take a while.  In my case it was around nine months.  I also had broken ribs to contend with too.  

I went about six weeks and the top cuts in the implant area were fairly healed when I decided to throw the ball for the dog.  Stretched out the underlying tissue which caused a lot of pain so I had to go an additional six weeks until the underlying tissue healed.  There were other symptoms.  I had the "ant bites" in the pacemaker pocket area as well as sharp pains that would last for a few seconds while the underlying nerves were healing.  

At the nine month mark I went back into the woodshop and started moving wood around.  Since I was so beat up from the broken ribs I only did two hours at a time at first.  I'd be OK during the time I was there but the next day it would feel like someone wrapped my pacemaker in sandpaper and scrubbed it around in the pocket.  Hot packs, cold packs, and Tylenol were my friends.  The soreness lasted for about three months while everything continued to heal.  As I remember the pacemaker pocket area was sore from about nine months to the end of the year.  The broken ribs took a lot longer.  After that I could move anything I wanted without any problems as far as the pacemaker area was concerned.  I've gotten bumped a couple of times in the pacemaker area and it really hurts.  So I'm careful as to what I let get close to my pacemaker side.  

Jackhammers ....  That may be a problem.  I had forgotten I had my pacemaker and picked up a SawsAll saw.  Started to cut and bore down with my left arm.  My pacemaker has an accelerometer and as the vibration went up my arm the pacemaker decided I was running and kicked up my heartbeat.  One of the guys in the shop came over and asked if I was OK.  I told him I was.  He said, "You had the strangest look on your face."  So no lasting problems as far as the pacemaker and my heart rate, I just have to be careful my pacemaker doesn't think I'm running and kick up my heart rate.  Actually the vibration has been my biggest problem.  Riding in bouncing trucks, riding in a diesel powered piece of equipment, and driving through construction areas have all kicked off my pacemaker.  I now know what's happening and it doesn't bother me.  If I have a free hand I'll just reach over with my free hand and hold my pacemaker until the vibration stops.  

Electric fences...  My dad told me you could test an electric fence by taking a blade of grass and laying it on the  fence.  You were supposed to get a tickle.  I was thinking you were supposed to get a tickle as I woke up looking at the clear blue sky.  Seems the grass blade had some water on the bottom side and I got the full benefit of the fence.  So I'd very strongly suggest he either avoids them or make sure he won't get shocked.  Supposedly it will put your pacemaker into a test mode, but I really wouldn't want to find out the hard way that it didn't work.  

I have grabbed a live 110 volt line after getting my pacemaker with no problems.  Generators shouldn't be a problem as long as he isn't grabbing a live line.  I volunteered in a 1300 bed hospital and had to go through one of those security check stations that check for firearms.  No problems.  And I had to walk past the MRI machines with no problems either.  

Large magnets...  The magnet has to be a certain size and a certain distance close to the pacemaker.  I've been within six inches of the rare earth magnets with no problems.  Those were the kind you had to use a small pry bar to pull apart.  I even did that with no problems with my pacemaker.  So you can be around them but I wouldn't put one closer than six inches to my pacemaker.  Once again it may put the pacemaker into test mode but I really wouldn't want to test that out in the field.  

Once everything healed I was able to go back to the woodshop and run all the equipment.  No problems.  I can lift as much as I want too.  Just moved 1500 pounds of wood last week on the cut crew.  I regularly move the 4x8 melamine sheets that weigh 55 pounds each.  No problems as far as the pacemaker but my back sure gets sore.  

Mostly it's just paying attention to what's going on.  I'm much more likely to let the younger guys move the heavy stuff and I've gotten a lot better at telling them what to do.  They need the experience and I don't need to be as sore.  So I work until it hurts, then I quit.  Last week I put in four hours on the cut crew and wore out two other guys so I guess I'm doing OK.  

I did have problems with rate response.  I could walk about 900 feet then I'd run out of air.  Could almost make a mark on the floor where I'd run out of air.  Talked with my EP and they ran some tests.  They called in the mfg. rep for my pacemaker brand and he made a couple of adjustments.  They don't have too many pacemaker guys moving 1500 pounds of wood and walking several miles a day.  After the adjustment, no problems with running out of air.  

The other problems I ran into was the amount of mis-information that was out there.  I had a hospital heart rehab person tell me there was a life time limit of lifting 47 pounds on the pacemaker side.  Asked her where she got that information and she couldn't tell me.  Also the "fact" sheet they gave me in the hospital had ten items on it.  Four of them were completely wrong and the other six were partially wrong.  Took me a while to figure out what was what.  Otherwise I do what I want and I live a "normal" life.  

Hope this helps.  If you have further questions feel free to send me a private message.  
 

Thank You!! 🙏

by Mea - 2021-10-11 00:51:28

Hi Thank you so much Tracey_E and Theknotguy.. Thank you both for your responses and my apologies for not getting back to you's sooner.. I couldn't find my post but I persisted & finally today figured it out & found it...Lol I'm not very good with this tech-stuff..

 I/we appreciate all the answers and your personnel experiences.. They have set our minds at ease.. Only thing I think my hubby was a little shocked about the thought that he might not being able to return to work immediately after 4-8 weeks, seemed he had himself set on what they told him & didn't consider the aspects that it might not heal as fast as anticipated especially if he doesn't allow efficient time for it to heal..

We are awaiting his surgery date, which we're told is about a week to 1 1/2weeks wait & will definitely remember to ask about having it placed in a lower more protected area, along with deeper implantation..

Thanks again & wishing you both all the best.. Gid Bless 🙏😊♥️

 

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