Thank you!

Many thanks to all of you who took the time to respond to my post; hearing that some of you had very similar experiences normalized my first week journey into Pacerland. To clarify, my pain has been manageable with some help. I was expecting "soreness for a day or two" and not the kind of pain that needed a couple of nights of Oxy, a fair amount of tylenol, lots of ice packs, a supportive bra, and lots of pillows. In all, not really awful, but a good bit more than "some soreness."

While I understand that most folks don't report a lot of discomfort, I don't think having a more realistic expectation that one can actually have a week of possibly needing to take care of oneself is a bad idea. I did go through a couple of days of "why does this hurt?" confusion. 

I'm curious about whether female patients might experience more discomfort due to more tissue to swell....Just an observation/thought.

I am one week post-op and had a visit with my cardiologist today. My numbers are good and she is very pleased. I see my EP next week for more technical check up (checking the settings? calibrating? I'm not yet fully educated on what can be done with this device....) Cardio did wound check and said it's looking great. 

I had derma-bond on top of the incision so I've been able to shower (gently, no scrubbing!) which makes me feel more like myself. Yes, washing hair with one hand is interesting....cut my hair shorter today to make the next five weeks easier.

As I said, the pain was manageable and improved daily after day three post-op. I have much more movement in my arm/shoulder now, although I'm still sleeping ensconced in a big chair with ottoman and several pillows. I cannot sleep on my back in bed which would be best for the surgical site and the swelling.

Thanks again to all who responded; hopefully this helps someone who found you all before surgery instead of after!

Best wishes, all...


4 Comments

Sending good wishes your way too

by Gemita - 2022-07-27 05:53:06

Maisy, 

Thank you so much for your post and for telling us about your experience during the first week following implant surgery.  I am glad things are settling down for you and I hope you go on to make a full recovery and do well with your pacemaker.

Your question regarding who feels pain more, our Survey on post op pain certainly showed there were more female responders (217 were female, 103 male), so this might suggest we females experienced more symptoms following implant surgery.  Clearly though the type of pacemaker we receive will make a difference too to the level of pain we experience, with an ICD and CRT pacemaker system perhaps causing more trauma than a simple, one lead right ventricle pacemaker, or a dual lead (right atrium to right ventricle) pacemaker.

I think too age, and any other health condition present may affect how much pain we experience.  A younger patient requiring a pacemaker for say a simple heart block who is otherwise in good health, may sail through the implant procedure, whereas an older patient, with say heart failure, diabetes, kidney problems might experience worse pain because of their poor general condition.  Anyway, the question is a good one.  Do we females experience more pain than males following pacemaker implant and if so, why, or are we just better at reporting our health concerns?

Doing good! High Fivers🙌🏼

by Lavender - 2022-07-27 09:00:04

I think some of us in time actually forget what the initial recovery period was like. Physically, I felt traumatized but the emotional toll was worse and lingered longer. At the seven month mark, I noticed that I was feeling well physically as well as emotionally. I had started to trust that I would no longer faint in unexpected places. 
 

As for bras-they do sell ones with wider placed straps called balconette bras. They're expensive and I knew that I wouldn't need that long. So, I altered a couple of my own bras like this:

Cut the strap off the left side (or right if that's where your pacemaker is). Cut it off just where it attaches to the cup. Now move it over about an inch closer to the armpit area. Sew it onto the cup over there.  It keeps the strap off the swelling. Once swelling goes down, your regular bra strap will be fine and most likely not sit on top of the pacemaker but to the side of it. I don't even have a sewing machine anymore. Just hand sew it. 
 

Your EP will most likely be doing what is called a pacemaker interrogation.  They will wave a wand or something over your pacemaker area which then hooks it up to a laptop. They then test each lead (wire that was placed in you) and see a readout of how your heart is doing.  It's not painful- but I do get a weird bit of woozy when they lower it to check and a bit of heart galloping when they have it beat more.  It only takes moments and you're done. They can then adjust the standard settings to suit you. I go in every six months and in between my home monitor does the interrogation every six months so that one way or another, the CRT-P device is being interrogated every three months.  
 

When you first get your device, they may have turned the setting up higher til your leads get more imbedded by fibrous tissue. At the one month check, mine was turned down and that made me feel better because the higher setting made me feel a bit anxious like I had drank a pot of coffee.

Sleeping on my back with a body pillow supporting my legs under the knees works for me.  I also have a 10"x13" pillow which I use to cushion the device when on my side.  I'm still not able to lie on my left side for long periods because it feels like the device is impinged and my heart actually seems like it gets more PVCs. Sleeping too long sitting up caused sciatica for me...so I lie down and pillow-up!

Attitude is half the battle in recovery;  yours is stellar!😃

Same Maisy!

by Swandives - 2022-07-27 21:10:28

It has been nine months since I had my first device implanted (Medtronic Azure) and I was so glad to come across your post because my experience was very similar recovery-wise. It took me weeks before I could sleep on my side and I had lots of trouble brushing my hair etc. I was back at work (desk job) within a week but I was surprised at how long it took before I began to feel more 'normal'. I am 47 and have heart block but otherwise I am in good health. I also ended up with a keloid scar that still gives me trouble - very sore to this day, even to touch.

Gemita, Lavender, Swandives....

by Maisy - 2022-07-27 23:37:08

Thank you all for reaching out; I can't tell you how supportive it feels to hear from you!

Gemita, I did read through the survey results and found it illuminating. Clearly a few who sailed through recovery, but more who had a less than quick and easy time with it. Also helpful for me to hear.

I think I'm getting toward the realization/acceptance that I might not feel myself for a while, and I think that's okay. I had a total hip replacement five years ago and I'd say I recovered well (with a surgeon and PT who were open to careful and monitored use of opiods to reduce pain to do the physical rehab work...) but it did take a bit longer for the last parts to catch up and forget about my hip. I assume that will happen eventually with this miracle in my chest.

The technical info (about EP visit) Lavender was really well-explained, so thanks for that. I don't think my leads are set high...60 to 120...but have had a couple of days of generalized "anxiety" that I'm wondering may be caused by this....? Of course I do think a genuine emotional anxiety is valid at this point, too! 

I'm concerned about a return of sciatica, so am hoping to pillow up tonight and try the bed. I gave it a shot last night and couldn't do it.

Swandives, I'm older than you, but have heart block too. (Also the Medtronic Azure, dual lead.) Again, your sharing has not made me feel daunted, but rather comforted by a realistic picture of what it's been like for others. Thanks for that!

Grateful to you all!

M

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Your anxiety is normal. It takes some of us a little time to adjust to the new friend. As much as they love you, family and friends without a device just cannot understand the adjustment we go through. That is why this site is so valuable.