Pre- ICD Any Advice?

Hello All,

I am new to this site, but have a feeling that we will be here quite a bit. My husband will be receiving his ICD on August 14th. i am doing last minute panic research online. Any advice, do's don'ts. Things we should ask, things we should know? Just know that it will be a Medtronic, that is it.

Taking baby steps, terrified the whole way.

any info, tips, advice, things to be concerned with would be greatly appreciated.
the wife.



by kyle0816 - 2007-08-10 01:08:15

I am 33 and had an ICD implanted back in April, feel free to email me with any questions. One of the main things I always like to tell people getting them is that they CAN be implanted under the muscle. I got mine under the muscle and it is far less noticeable (no one can see it even when I wear a very tight shirt) than if you get it implanted under the skin only as is the normal procedure. I don't know if your husband really cares about the aesthetic part of it but I know every time I see it I'm glad the lump is a lot smaller than it could have been.
Another concern I had was lifting weights, my Dr. routed the leads in such a way where it would not be crushed by my collar bone when I lifted, you might want to ask the Dr. about this also.
He will have shoulder pain for quite a while after the implant, that's normal, I still have some pain and it's been 4 months since my implant. He probably won't be able to sleep on the side of the implant for a while.
Anyway if you have any questions feel free to send me an email on here. Good luck!


by CathrynB - 2007-08-10 12:08:26

Hey MWyattWY, Welcome to Pacemaker Club! Folks on this site are a caring group who love to share information, questions and support, so I hope you'll find the assistance you need, as I have since I got my first pacemaker in January at age 50.
My observation is there are more folks on this site who have pacemakers than ICDs, so you may find fewer responses when your questions are specific to ICDs. But those of us with pacemakers will certainly offer thoughts that apply to both.
I've seen many postings that suggest the recovery period post-op can be slower, with more impacts, than doctors sometimes tell us. That has been my experience as well. But some people fly through it practically without a hitch. Post op pain can be anywhere from mild and short-lived (my experience) to more serious and long-lasting, especially if any complications develop.
The emotional aspects of getting a foreign device implanted in your body, whose purpose is to keep you alive, can be huge. Some people go through a couple weeks of shock and disbelief, then easily move on to their new life. Others suffer some depression, panic attacks and other emotional difficulties. Smitty, one of our long-time, very knowledgeable posters, often reminds us that these cardiac devices are more reliable than our own electrical systems in our hearts, so we shouldn't go around worrying about whether they will really "do the job" when needed. They will!
Many people on this site have felt that even with loving, caring, supportive family, there's nothing like communicating with other people who are in your same shoes -- so I would encourage you and your husband, if and when he's ready, to post all your questions and concerns on this site and get information from folks who have "been there, done that" -- we love to share!
One of the post op challenges is that with a PM/ICD, your husband will have electrical leads threaded through a vein and secured into his heart muscle wall, and it takes about 6 weeks or so for scar tissue to form securely around the tips of those leads in the heart muscle. They are at risk of being pulled out and requiring another surgery to re-set them until then. So his doctor will tell him not to raise his arm higher than his shoulder for a period of time, generally 6 weeks. Initially the discomfort will keep him from doing this anyway, but that will go away and he'll feel somewhat hobbled by that restriction. But it's very important to follow post op orders.
It's really helpful to understand what is happening with this implantable device, so I urge you to keep a written list of all your questions as they come to mind and insist on answers anytime you and your husband have an appointment with his cardiologist. Most doctors are good about taking the time to respond, but some aren't, and you can be an important advocate for your husband's needs if this is the case with his doctor.
Your husband is blessed to have a spouse who is concerned, caring and supportive. We know you are worried, too, and we have seen many postings from concerned spouses, children, and grandchildren, so please feel welcome in this forum and know that we'll help if we can.
Take care, and give us a posting after your husband's surgery to tell us how it went and how he's doing (and you too), Cathryn

Thank you!

by MWyattWY - 2007-08-12 06:08:41

Cathryn, Kyle and Sharon,

Thank you all so much for your wonderful advice.
you brought forward things that i haven't thought of yet, but would have wished that I had.

Amazing support!

I will check back often to follow up.
in the meantime, I welcome you to visit our story on
The carepage name is : ThemWyatts

Thank you again.
with sincere regards.
the wife,


by FredL - 2007-08-12 08:08:22

I've now had my ICD for exactly 2 years. My need for this device was a little challenging seeing as how my occupation is in the outdoor power equipment business. I have had no problem with continuing to work. The doctor suggested that I work 'smarter' rather than 'harder'. I experienced a short period of time of recovery but really had no problem. Restricting my arm movement was difficult. After recovery, I have not experienced any activity from my ICD. I recognize the possibility of experiencing a shock when necessary. I've learned to 'live-with' my ICD and am extremely thankful that I have it. By the way, my wife was also terrified as we faced this 'opportunity' but she made it fine just as I did. Good luck!

A tip or 2.......

by auntiesamm - 2007-08-12 12:08:29

Hello and Welcome,

I don't have an ICD but a PM which was implanted in May 2006. It all went very smoothly and in 2 days I was up and at it, even driving myself.

Biggest problem: remembering not to reach above shoulder level on the left side. This was extremely difficult for me as it is something that I do many, many times a day. My husband was good at catching me when it looked like I was reaching but wasn't around all the time.

Finally, I put yellow post-its on every door, cabinet, drawer, shelf, clothes rod that was higher than shoulder level. They served as a constant reminder for me. The important thing is to use the left arm enough so as not to get a frozen shoulder. Simple arm movements, shoulder shrugs, anything that is motion would be enough. There have been a few folks on here who have had serious shoulder problems from immobility.

Hope this helps a little as your husband prepares for his device this coming week. Let us know how he does & let him know I am praying for him to have an easy placement and quick recovery! God bless you both.


i have VT

by Eileen - 2007-08-13 12:08:31

I have VT too and have a icd.

ICD Implant

by cmgdavid - 2007-08-17 11:08:01

Be very careful about getting the ICD under muscle. The last time I was in to have a lead replaced the patient next to me had their Pacemake replaced. I t was under the muscle and shere was in terrible pain after the procedure I am assuming because they have to "dig" the device out.

Life is Good...

by turnpikejohn - 2007-08-24 09:08:46

I'm a 47 year old male; my ICD was implanted under the skin in June of 2006. I continue to run a minimum of 10 miles a week and exercise daily. I weight 147 lbs and the device really shows – quite the bump! People that know I have it can notice it under my shirt. I get the most questions from kids at the pool or beach. I answer them honestly and they accept it with no problem. It doesn't bother me that it's so prevalent. Beats the alternative. I did receive an unnecessary shock once so far. It didn’t hurt, but was more like a sucker punch – I didn’t know what hit me right away. I was out running when that happened. Anyways now it’s no big deal.

You know you're wired when...

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Member Quotes

Hi, I am 47 and have had a pacemaker for 7 months and I’m doing great with it.