Mental Health

hi, i never use forums or anything like this so sorry if my post etiquette or anything is incorrect. but i'm a 19 yr old female and march 29th 2022 i had an s-icd implanted. ever since leaving the hospital i've been extremely depressed. the scarring i have is terrible, it's mostly on the side of my ribcage under my arm and i hate looking at it. the device itself is also clunky and can be seen through my skin and it's always sore and trying to sleep comfortably is impossible. and about a month after my surgery my boyfriend broke up with me due to the stress from everything that happened to me. ever since that hospital stay my quality of life has plummeted and i'm exhausted all the time from the beta-blockers i'm on and i'm worried none of it's going to get better or go away. my cardiologist warned against me using antidepressants because of the type of heart condition i have so there's nothing i can do artificially to help myself either. i've seriously considered having the device removed and just accepting the risks that come along with it. because i don't see myself ever being okay with any of this. 

can anyone offer any advice because i don't really know what to do to help myself. 


9 Comments

Some of us take longer to heal but it always gets better

by Gemita - 2022-06-20 03:26:28

Vanattica, firstly welcome.  I can understand why you are feeling depressed having to face so much at 19.  I think you are being incredibly brave to come here and talk openly about your feelings.  It takes courage to admit when we are in trouble but this is the first step to getting better.

Talking therapy (CBT - cognitive behavioural therapy) has always worked well for me and for many others too because it often gets to the heart of our difficulties rather than suppressing them with medication.  Of course with depression, we may need medical help too and only your general doctor can really assess whether you need an antidepressant or other safe medication with your heart condition, to help you through this difficult period. 

I would make an appointment to see your doctor and tell him/her everything you have told us so eloquently in your message.  You could discuss your feelings towards your device, how uncomfortable it is, how exhausted you feel on beta blockers, how depressed you feel about the future and that you are finding it hard to “move forward”.  You could ask for help with the scarring and show him your wound and device area since you mention it is very sore.  I would report the difficulties you are having with your beta blockers.  It may be that they can reduce the dosage or change to another medication.   

Many of us start our device journey wondering how we will ever manage to overcome the discomfort of our implant, the fear of having an implant and how it will affect us in the future.  We struggle with the way it looks and feels at first and worry about how it might affect our personal relationships, but most of us make a full recovery and go on to lead normal, active lives and why not for you too?

I see you have an S-ICD to protect you from your heart condition, to potentially save your life.  At 19 years, you have your whole life ahead of you and it promises to be good now that you are fully protected.  

For some of us the trauma from having an implant may last longer than expected especially when we suffer emotional as well as physical pain following device implantation.

Remember you are very special and deserve to be happy and you will start to enjoy life again very soon, to form new, happy relationships in the knowledge that your device will keep you safe.  I wish you lots of strength and an early recovery from your distressing symptoms.  

Talk it Through

by SeenBetterDays - 2022-06-20 07:16:08

Hi Vanattica

You have been through such a lot, it is no surprise you are feeling overwhelmed by it all.  Having a device implanted in your body is a big adjustment and will take time for the physical and mental scars to heal.  I really understand how sad you must feel to have lost your relationship with your boyfriend just at a time when you most need the support of those close to you. 

Gemita is so right about talking it through as this will help you come to terms with what has happened and maybe reframe your thoughts - the device may seem like your enemy at the moment but it is there to protect you and keep you safe.  You have a long life ahead of you and so much to enjoy and look forward to.  I can tell by your post how desperately unhappy you are at the moment and you need to focus on looking after your mental health.  Do you have a close friend or family member to talk through your feelings with? Definitely review your medication with your doctor as this may be contributing to lack of energy and low mood.  I would also say, if you feel up to it, spend a bit of time outdoors in nature.  I do a short guided meditation on my phone each morning which I find helps to calm my anxiety.  Do you have any activities you love?  I know that you may not feel like doing anything at the moment but sometimes getting absorbed in something can really help to refocus your mind and provide a calming distraction.

You are stronger than you think you are and, in time, you will find a way through this.  I am sending you lots of love and remember you are not on your own with this, these feelings are absolutely natural and expected.

Take care

Rebecca

Mental difficulties

by Good Dog - 2022-06-20 08:34:43

First-off I want to welcome you! I too had a pacemaker suddenly implanted at a young age. Not as young as you, but it was the mental difficulties that were the most challenging. I was so depressed and actually thought that my life was over (as I had known it). I was fortunate that a nurse, I now consider to be an angel, helped me so much! After telling her what I was feeling she had other men my age call me and let me know that they lived perfectly normal lives after their PM implants. That immediately made me feel better. Once I got out there (after healing-up) and started getting active again, I soon realized that my live was "really" normal in every way. My PM was just there to protect me and I eventually stopped thinking about it. What I learned was that my PM should not and did not define who I was. Since getting that PM over 35 years ago I can honestly tell you that my life has been completely normal in every way. And I do mean in "every way". I understand that right now you are a little overwhelmed by how new this is and the unknown. Though, you need to understand that your life doesn't need to change except for your routine check-ups. Perhaps nobody told you, but you also can have the PM implanted under a muscle so nobody can even see it. No one has to even know you have one. You can ask the doc when you get a generator change to do that. Additionally, your prescription dose can be adjusted to minimize side-effects.  Are you aware that Julie Bowen on the tv show Modern Family has a PM. Lots of other famous people that live perfectly normal lives have them too. 

So while what you are feeling now is perfectly normal, you will get through this and will live a long, happy and healthy life.

Also, while there are likely millions of people across the globe that have pacemakers, there are only a very small handful that have any problems and will post here from time to time. So keep in mind that what you read here is not typical. People that have issues are the exception.

I wish you the very best ,

Sincerely,

Dave

S-ICD (subcutaneous implantable defibrillator)

by Gemita - 2022-06-20 11:04:52

I attach the Boston Scientific link about their S-ICD for those members interested.  The link should be copied and pasted into your main browser to open it:-

https://www.bostonscientific.com/en-IN/products/defibrillators/s-icd.html

Latest & Greatest

by Good Dog - 2022-06-20 13:38:22

When I commented above I assumed that this was just another ICD. I did not realize it was the latest and greatest. It seems to have a lot of benefits physicologically. I love the idea of not having to worry about lead extraction. However, based upon Vanattica's comments, I wonder if aethestics are compromised and/or if it can be relocated deeper under the muscle like a regular ICD/pacemaker. It would seem like this is much more important to a young person than someone in their 70's. I think it is something that she should explore the options of if she wishes.

I promise you - it gets better!

by lildanishgirl - 2022-06-22 21:09:43

Hi Vanattica,

What you wrote about are all normal feelings/thoughts after getting something life changing like an ICD. I got my ICD a few years ago at the young age of 33, after I survived a (very) sudden cardiac arrest at work. Like you, I had a really hard time accepting it, and the ICD itself was very uncomfortable at the beginning. I did do some CBT talk therapy for a few months and it helped immensely. It was actually offered for free through the hospital where I got the implant, so maybe something to look into...? I promise you - it takes time but it gets better!!!!! At the beginning, I never thought it would but it really did. Soon enough, you won't even realize you have an ICD. As much as I don't like having an ICD at such a young age, I see my ICD as my own personal paramedic - just sitting there...ready to take action (and save my life), if need be! The emotional and physical scars will eventually lessen/diminish, don't worry. If you ever want to reach out, send me a private message! I'm not much of a forum person either but I found it really helped chatting with people similar in age as I recovered :) Take care!

this too shall pass

by dwelch - 2022-06-25 02:59:45

First off...boyfriend...this is HIS problem not yours.  A true life partner will be there for every ER visit be it a few stitches or a broken leg.  Will be there for any/all pregnancies/births.  Decades from now, cancer or demntia or anything else, will be there.  This guy doesnt sound like he is marriage material...Just calling it like I see it...You can...and will... do better.

And that partner, etc will not care about scars or devices or whatever.  Again over the life you have together, we all go from looking fantastic at 19 to well not so much eventually.  And the general public, if they have an issue, they are the one with the problem not you. They might not like your shoes or hairstyle either, who cares, their problem not ures. 

My first device 35 years ago was huge compared to todays, I was super skinny and it stuck way out.  I moved on, biggest problem is bumping it on things cause that really hurts, not what it looks like.

You will get to a point where you forget about it, you know you have it like a belly button or a middle toe, but you just dont think/focus on it.

Some folks make the transition into pacers with no issues, but many of us, I would argue most, do have some sort of transition mentally.  There is the "why me".  And a whole lot of, is my toothbrush dangerous, the coffee maker instructions have a pacemaker warning, is that safe?  As well as that weird heart beat, hmm, what was that, is that a problem do i need to talk to the doc.  I am not trying to scare you i am saying we all went through it we still go through it, but we learn to trust the device and no longer fear it.   These are all normal feelings.  That does not mean they will go away instantly.  And seems like you have had enough surprises and changes in a row, that you should just go talk to someone.   You also have the folks here.  When I started this journey there was no public internet, no websites, no forums a chat with my doc once a year was it. I was also 19 when I started (but mine was not a surprise I had a few years of warning)(which in hind site I should not have survived).  This site collectively has more experience than any one doc will ever have.  But just like reviews on shopping sites, its the folks that have issues that post the most, rarely do you see a I had a great surgery, nothing was wrong, device is working great.  So for every one of these I have a problem post there is a very large number of I didnt have a problem people.

And yes, this post is about your problem and it is real and we can help.

It sounds like you need to talk to someone, many of us including myself have a professional we talk to about lifes challenges.  It may take a while, but you wll get to the point where you literally forget you have this thing.  Even the scar will just be a normal thing you see in the mirror and not trigger emotions.  You will find a partner that takes you as is, and you will take them as is, and you will live with each others changes over a lifetime.  You are starting this journey young, like me you will be talking about your fourth, fifth, sixth device to the folks worried about their first.

 

hugs

by Lavender - 2022-06-25 17:05:56

My boyfriend has been here all along, and was not deterred by my pacemaker experience, even when I was so depressed about how it looked, how it felt, etc. 

Shortly after implantation, I looked into the mirror and was horrified to see all the new blue lines from veins that had shown up on my chest, out my arm and into the armpit. I thought the scar would look raised and ugly forever. Now it is a thin white line. I can feel the device is there but mine doesn't stick up. I see it when I wear a v neck top, but I figure, what the heck, I would be dead without it. People deal with bigger deformities than that. 

I have to say though I was depressed. I felt defeated and broken. I slept a lot, and wanted the safety of my bed with my favorite comfy blanket. I did not leave home a lot and certainly not alone. 

Everyone adjusts in a different way at a different pace. Everyone heals mentally with different means. I listened to a lot of calming music, I listened to Eckhart Tolle, I prayed. One of the most healing things was to see a licensed massage therapist. She was so good about working around my device, using rolled up towels under my armpits to hold me up a bit when lying on my belly. I also listened to tons of youtube Michael Sealey meditations which helped me handle my anxiety.

I have had my device since February 2021. I now am going out to lunch with friends, and living as I did before this all started. I did have a very hard 7 months of dealing with the surprise pains, the sadness, the facing mortality thing...but it got better. 

You will too. You know what you need, whether it be faith, counseling, comfort. You are mourning more than the new device, and believe me, your boyfriend is soooo STUPID> LOL! I WISH I WAS NINETEEN! go get 'em girl. Fight back and find your peace. 

Thank you

by Vanattica - 2022-06-25 21:28:44

thank you all so much for the thoughtful words and comments. i wrote this post when i was feeling especially down and hopeless, although most days are pretty rough, not all of them are that terrible usually. i read over every comment and was so surprised by the support that i read them over again with my mom, who also wanted to extend a thank you. 

hearing i'm not the only one out there that has gone through similar things has brought me such a comfort. plus the dissing of my ex boyfriend has brought me a laugh. LOL. i will definitely be a regular on this website in the future for support and questions, and i hope with time i'll be able to offer support and advice to others as well.

 

much love! 

You know you're wired when...

You fondly named your implanted buddy.

Member Quotes

The experience of having a couple of lengths of wire fed into your heart muscle and an electronic 'box' tucked under the skin is not an insignificant event, but you will survive.