Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pacemaker / Difibrillator

I was teaching class and something didn't feel right. I wasn't nauseous or short of breath, just light headed. I put my hands on the table to steady myself. The next thing I knew I was strapped to a gurney with paramedics over me, asking if my head hurt. Apparently I went down like a felled Sequoia. My knees didn't buckle so my head hit the ground hard.
Over the next few weeks I had four more fainting spells. One even brought with it a little seizure. They came without warning and always when I was standing up. Tests afterward came back normal-normal-normal. Doctors thought I was dehydrated, they couldn't figure out what was wrong because in between episodes I was perfectly fine.
Finally an angiogram and electrocardiogram verified an irregular heartbeat. I needed a pacemaker. In retrospect I realized that I had felt the irregular heartbeat for 6 months but I didn't know what it was. The doctor called it palpitations but to me it felt like a car engine revving in my chest. My heart was fibrillating. The upper two chambers quivered instead of pumping so they were out of sync with the two lower ventrical's pumping.
A technician from the pacemaker manufacturer, in my case St. Jude Medical, was present in the surgery room and opened the case containing the pacemaker to be sure that it had not been tampered with in any way before they put it in my body. That was nice.
When they sent me home the hospital supplied me with with oxygen and nurses visits. For six weeks I could not raise my arm above my head. This was to give the wires implanted in my heart time to "set" with scar tissue.
The pacemaker they implaneted is also a defibrillator. Yu've probably seen movies where the paramedics put two paddles on someones chest and give them a jolt of electricity when they go into cardiac arrest.
This is what I have built into my pacemaker! So far it has gone off twice. Once when I was with my doctor and my wife and it was quite scary. My body stiffened and lurched a couple times. it felt as if I'd been kicked in the chest by a jackass. The next time I was dancing in a crowded room and I stiffened and wobbled but was able to keep my feet under me.
So my life has been saved twice by the difibrillator and the little lump under my skin seems a small price to a Reader, you too can submit your story to Health Gone OW

No comments:

Post a Comment