Monday, May 2, 2016

People's Reactions are Priceless

I had a call today from someone who I hadn't spoke to in about a year - called out of the blue, and of course they casually asked "how's it going?" 

Being truthful, I explained that I was home recovering from a procedure, and mentioned that I had a pacemaker implanted last week. Silence...for about 5 seconds....then profuse apologies for disturbing me. If it was a disturbance, I would not have answered the call, especially since caller ID told me who was on the other end.

It's interesting to see how people handle the news. The team at work of course knew in advance, because I had to transition some projects over to them for the time I am away. That did not stop some from emailing the day after the procedure to ask "can you take a quick call" to lots of well wishes to being sent a basket of brownies and cookies. 

Or silence and not knowing what to say. Hey, having a pacemaker is not a death sentence. Or a sign that I am ready to retire (I wish). Actually, I am feeling pretty darn good. I just can't move as fast as I would like, and my energy level isn't where I want it to be just now. The device and I are getting used to each other, it is rate-adaptive (closed loop sensing) and learning how to deliver the right amount of heart rate. And I'm learning not to react. It still seems like my heart is beating way too fast, especially when I am winding down to get to sleep and I feel like my heart is jumping out of my chest - but the rate is 85 or 80. I guess I got used to being at 60 for too long :).

Back to people's reactions. Even though pacemakers are not that rare, almost everyone mentions those they know who have one are elderly, and set expectations accordingly - yes the majority are placed in those over 65. But pacemakers are placed in children, young adults, and those my age (over 45 but nowhere near Social Security). 

So, what is it like? Well, I can't feel much of anything, which is good - if there was pain, then a lead might have moved out of place or the incision was developing an infection. I'm enjoying the warm hands and sleeping better. Yes, there will be a scar and a bump on my upper chest. Big deal. And the battery/generator will need to be replaced in about 10 years...may I be retired and living the good life by then.



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