Success Story

Hello everyone, Gemita’s husband Michael here.  I have been a member of this Club since 2018 but have not posted before.  Just wanted to come along with my own pacemaker Success Story.  I am 84 so perhaps I should be slowing down but my nature is always to push myself to do more, to try out something new, since I have been active all my life. 

Before getting my pacemaker, I experienced a number of syncope episodes without warning.  These started in 2016, when I collapsed in Brienza, Italy (my birthplace).  My wife was beside me and tried to support me as I fell to the ground.   When I gained consciousness, I couldn’t really understand what all the fuss was about and why an ambulance was on its way.  I was hungry and lunch was ready and I was more interested in eating than going into hospital.  I told the doctors when I arrived that all I needed was a good plate of pastasciutta to feel well again.  They gave me some hot chicken broth instead  They kept me in overnight for observation and gave intravenous fluids, including magnesium/potassium.  I was in Atrial Fibrillation at the time.  

In early 2017 I started having more in the way of symptoms - syncope, breathlessness and chest pain.  I was found to have an almost total blockage of my left anterior descending artery (LAD) and also an ulcerated right coronary artery (RCA), so I received three stents, two in the LAD and one in the RCA.  Immediately after the procedure I suffered a minor left cerebellar stroke while still in hospital which mildly affected my speech and balance.  Some weeks after this event, I had another small stroke in the same area, the symptoms of which I foolishly ignored for some hours, not realising what was happening at the time.

During early 2018 while my wife was out, I tried to do some work in the garden using an electric hedge trimmer.  I came over faint and fell off the ladder cutting through the electric hedge trimmer cable as I fell, landing heavily on my wife’s sculptured shrub.  I tore my left bicep from the strenuous work that day, having already torn the right bicep a few months earlier.  The bruising was horrendous and my GP sent me to A&E where they discovered my heart rate was extremely low.  A few days later the decision was made to implant a single lead pacemaker to treat my sinus node disease and intermittent heart block.  My quality of life since my pacemaker has improved immensely.  I still get the occasional dizzy spell but I never lose consciousness anymore.

I have been able to return to most of my activities.  I am a member of a Choir and continue to sing proudly with an Italian accent.  (Vera Lynn’s war-time songs:  The White Cliffs of Dover and We’ll Meet Again are Choir favourites).  We sometimes sing at local Care Homes and my wife has made some videos of our performances.  I also enjoy meeting up with my several conversational language groups.

I walk daily down to the shops to do some food shopping for my wife, since we no longer have a car.  The bus drivers know me well and always greet me warmly and lower the buses to a comfortable level to help me board with my shopping trolley.  We lead a simple life but a happy one and in a few weeks time I will be meeting my second great grandchild for the first time.  Who would have thought I would have reached the age of 84 when I was fading fast before my pacemaker implant and other interventions.  I hope you all have success with your pacemakers and a long and happy life too. 

Michael 


19 Comments

Great story

by FG - 2023-03-30 23:00:58

Michael thank you so much. In today's world inspirational positive stories are sorely needed. Thank you for yours. I've only got seven days on my device and my baseline energy level even at rest while sitting in my chair reading has improved. I will continue to check in to Pacemaker Club on a regular basis to make sure I keep up with everything and let you guys know how things are going. I certainly have made my family more comfortable because the doctors had explained a lot of my situation to them. Let's hope more people see this thread in time to give their positive experiences!

Thanks for your story and

by benedeni - 2023-03-31 08:48:40

Very Pleased to meet you, Michael.  Your story was quite interesting and uplifting.  I know you are excited to meet that new great grandbabby and it will be a wonderful adventure for both you and Gemita.  I know the excitement level is off the charts so stay as stress-free as you can!  You have been through so many health issues.  Hurrah for coming through everything so positively!

My Very Best to you and Gemita.

 

Hi!!!

by Tracey_E - 2023-03-31 09:14:53

Nice to see you posting!!

Welcome!

by Daedalus - 2023-03-31 10:56:46

Great post, Michael!   Don't be a stranger here.  Stop by anytime!

Thank you all for the warm welcome

by michael.p - 2023-03-31 13:09:05

I have tried to post in the past but have had problems logging in with my stored invalid passwords.  Gemita helped me with my "success post" (and typed/edited it too) and uploaded my profile picture.  I don’t like to admit defeat, but I think using a computer is one area where I am probably too old to learn something new.  I usually hit every key in sight in sheer frustration when something goes wrong and then I find myself in an unfamiliar place, so Gemita has to clear up my mess.

FG I am glad you have had such a good response to pacing, even though you had some real concerns.  That is the best result you could have hoped for and I sense your family is relieved too that you have got a pacemaker at last to protect you.  

Benedeni, thank you.  Yes I am over excited to meet my second great “grandbabby” and really don’t know how I am supposed to stay calm?  I don’t want to scare her but I fear I will probably end up doing this.  I will try to post some pics to the Gallery (or Gemita will) on our return.

Tracey, thank you and I will try to post again on my own next time, even if there are errors.  That is the only way I am going to learn.  I am sorry we didn’t get to see you and your daughter when you were in London. Perhaps we will have the opportunity again one day.  I do hope so.

Daedalus, I have just seen your recent Gallery pic with your wonderful pet dog.  He looks really special.  Your Buddy’s beautiful eyes are so expressive and I am sure you both have so much fun together and he keeps you active.  I have only owned cats, but they like going for walks too although the neighbours thought we were totally mad.

Lovely to Meet You

by SeenBetterDays - 2023-03-31 14:10:54

Hi Michael, What a positive and inspiring post. You have clearly faced a lot of health challenges and not allowed any of them to stop you from living life to the full.  I am with you on the computer frustration, luckily I have two teenagers who act as my technical advisors! How lovely that you will be meeting a new grandchild soon, I am so pleased for you and Gemita. Exciting times. Looking forward to reading lots more of your posts.

Welcome to the club!

by Lavender - 2023-03-31 21:08:19

Michael, nice to meet you. Thank you for sharing your lovely, intelligent wife with us. Must be heaven being married to an angel!

You certainly sound robust and energetic! You are inspiring! 

Sucess

by Mrw2350 - 2023-03-31 21:38:10

Great story ,good to meet you 😊

Michael

by AgentX86 - 2023-03-31 23:43:19

Hi Michael! I feel like I know you already.  😉

Welcome to the club, in person!

A true success story

by Rch - 2023-04-01 00:20:28

Truly a great success story. I'm glad you didn't suffer any major injuries during your LOC or dizziness during periods of arrhythmias. I wonder how much of your dizziness or syncope could also  be related to your pulmonary hypertension. I'm sure you are on the anticoagulants now. Just wondering whether you had been on anticoagulants at the time of your strokes.

One question I have for you is why did your providers decide on stenting 3 critically stenotic vessels rather than do a 3 vessel bypass? 

I have been extremely lucky

by michael.p - 2023-04-01 02:51:16

SeenBetterDays and Lavender thank you both for your warm-hearted messages and greetings. Yes Gemita looks after me "too" well at times, quickly picking up on any changes in my mood and other symptoms and then swiftly taking action if needed. I would be lost without her now.

Mrw2350 and AgentX86, thank you both.  Mrw2350 I see you have only recently received your pacemaker.  I hope you continue to make good progress and all the signs are looking good for you at present.   AgentX86 I feel I know you already too and I can see that you know a thing or two about blocked arteries.  I have tried to answer Rch’s comment (below), but I do wonder now why they didn’t mention bypass surgery instead of stenting.  Can I ask whether stenting was ever an option for you?

Rch, thank you. I think I have been throwing small clots for some time, since during my last two MRI’s they picked up evidence of at least 4 strokes going back some years.  And yes, for a long time I wasn’t on anticoagulation since my AF wasn’t picked up during regular routine monitoring until it became more persistent.  I have been incredibly lucky.  Gemita has always suspected some stroke activity from my behaviour at times and did urge me to speak to my doctors on one particular occasion, but I never noticed the changes so thought she was making a fuss over nothing.  You are probably correct too about the pulmonary hypertension being a cause for my dizzy spells/fainting.

Rch, Gemita is helping me answer your final question.  We can only assume that bypass surgery was deemed too risky at the time with my mounting health problems, particularly the stroke risk but I wasn’t given a choice.  We recall during a chemically induced stress echo when they first discovered I probably had serious arterial disease (which would need to be confirmed by angiogram), they wanted to know if I would like to enter a study, going either with medication to treat my arteriosclerosis or with invasive surgery? I chose the latter.  A blocked LAD is no small matter, is it and I think I made the right choice  

Success Story

by Flo - 2023-04-01 06:45:59

Thanks for your success story.  Your "simple" life sounds very good. 

Well done

by piglet22 - 2023-04-01 07:19:54

It's good to see that you have such a positive outlook when things go wrong and have the strength of attitude to get through it all.

Gemita is like having your own personal consultant, something we would all like.

I do hope you continue to really enjoy life and family and do watch out for those trimmer cables, says he who has cut through many while leaning a ladder against the hedge.

A bit like cuting through the branch you are sitting on.

Stenting

by AgentX86 - 2023-04-01 11:50:24

Stents are the easy fix.  I was originally supposed to have two stents but when my cardiologist did the catheterization found that there we're at least three blockages, two of which couldn't be stented because they were at a branch of two arteries.  If he'd done one of them, the blood to the kidneys would have been compromised.  Not good.  So it was a bypass for me.   They found four blockages,  90-100% blocked.  They only did three because they ran out of time on the heart-lung machine. They also did a maze procedure and LAA isolation, which took the excess time. Stents are way simpler. They're really not anything more than a heart cath. If you have to have stents, see if there is anyone who will do it through the wrist.  The recovery is really trivial.  No laying on the back and taking it easy, just a pressure cuff on the wrist for a few hours. As soon as the sedation wears off, you're out of there.

I also had two micro-strokes assumed to be because of untreated Afib. My neurologist thinks they were the cause of a seizure in 2018.  I'm on an anti-convulsive to treat that.  It seems to be working.  I don't have any noticeable effects of the micro-infarcts other than that.  Lucky.

 

Nice to hear

by athena123 - 2023-04-01 18:10:59

Im so happy for you and your courage to rise above> You have an incredible partner with you who will help guide you. Together you both make a great team. continued  blessings to both. 

Flo, Piglet, AgentX86 and Athena

by michael.p - 2023-04-01 18:13:52

Thank you all for your support.

Athena, your words mean a great deal to both of us especially as you are going through some difficult symptoms yourself at the moment.  I hope these will ease quickly for you

Flo, yes our simple life has its many compensations and it still feels “busy enough” for both of us.  I hope you are doing well too.  

Piglet, I see I am not the only one who gets into trouble with those cables.  If Gemita had her way she wouldn’t let me do anything in the garden because she knows I am accident prone due to balance issues and loss of muscle strength.  My pruning is not to her liking anyway - I am much too aggressive with her prized plants.

AgentX86, thank you so much for sharing your experience. Perhaps my doctors felt stenting was the safest option for me at the time, less invasive and easier as you say, quicker recovery time (fewer days to spend in hospital) and cheaper for our NHS.  I suppose they took into account my age too and stroke history.  I see you are much younger.

I am sorry you needed an AV Node ablation for your atypical Atrial Flutter following your successful Maze procedure for your AFib.  That must have been disappointing.  I hope you don’t feel the Flutter rhythm too much and that it won’t weaken your heart in the longer term, although I know you have CRT already in place.   

Stents

by AgentX86 - 2023-04-01 22:56:32

I didn't spend any time in the hospital, and wouldn't have even if they put the stents in.  That was eight years ago, so I was much younger than you are and it does matter. Stents are always the safer and cheaper alternative.  After having the sternum cracked open and the heart cut up, recovery isn't overnight.  I was in the hospital nine days and that was just the start.  Well, it didn't help that my wife gave me bronchitis the day after I left the hospital. She got it in the hospital but was symptomatic first, so I blamed her. 😁

Calling the maze a successful procedure is being really kind.  Trading Afib for Aflutter wasn't a win, IMO. I no longer feel the flutter at all.  That was the reason for the AV node ablation.

My heart seems to be alright, though I'm having a lot of trouble with PVCs now.  Enough that I can get SOB. My pacemaker can only capture six seconds so it's hit or miss to nail one down.

I just bought a Kardia Mobile 6L because my pacemaker wasn't picking them up. I'll send them an EKG next time it gets really bad.  Today I counted seven out of 42 beats but it's been worse.

As everyone can see, sometimes these things get hard to track down.  It's not just the new owners of these things. Sometimes we all run into bumpy roads.

 

Success story

by Aberdeen - 2023-04-02 14:32:17

Michael- an inspiring and interesting success story! Thank you for sharing it with us. You are well looked after by Gemita too who knows so much about pacemakers and is extremely helpful!

Thank you for sharing your story

by skigrl3 - 2023-04-23 09:33:29

MIchael Thank you for sharing your story. Like many here, I too, have fainted rather fabulously in some really different places, prior to getting my PM last year - including the New York Subway, The summit of Snowbird Alta Mineral basin, skis on, going down the steep, I went down! Once in the GYN office while having an annual exam. Taking my dad to the emergency room for care, yes I fainted, and many more times. I am glad you are paced and are sharing your success with us here on this forum. Best wishes for continued health.

You know you're wired when...

You have a $50,000 chest.

Member Quotes

So, my advice is to go about your daily routine and forget that you have a pacemaker implanted in your body.