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Pacemaker: To Be or Not To Be? Not to Be (featuring video)

By  4th November 2018

Hello everyone,

Last week I gave you all an update on my health and where I am at the moment. I also told you that I would be going in to have my pacemaker changed on Monday. Well, things did NOT go to plan and I sit here in the library, typing away, with the exact same pacemaker I had when I did the same last week. So, lemme tell you a lil’ story…

This Monday, I woke bright and early and travelled with my Mum to the Freeman hospital ready for my procedure. I checked in, had my obs done, saw my Doctor, signed the consent form, changed into my gown and went down to the cath lab ready to go. So far so good, right?

First things first, my Doctor needed to find access to the artery that leads to my heart on my left side, which is currently where my pacemaker sits, to see if he was able to replace it with a new one in the same place and if he was able to implant another wire to enable dual chamber pacing (I currently only have 1 wire). I suppose you could say we fell at the first hurdle.

It took the poor man around 5 attempts to even get a cannula into a vein, after calling in help from an anaesthetist. Once they finally managed to find a tiny vein somewhere in the deep depths of my anatomy, an infusion of contrast and an X-Ray showed that my arteries on the left side are completely blocked. So plan A: fail.

Contrats Pictire Pacemake Blog

In this X-Ray, you can see the blocked arteries on my left side where my pacemaker is. On the other (right) side, you can see my arteries are nice and clear.

Another infusion showed that the artery on my right side is clear but going forward with the replacement on that side would involve either rerouting everything across my chest which is very risky or implanting a new one, both of which would take up the last direct available access to my heart that I might need for something else in the future. Plan B and C – off the cards.

However, in the lab, they turned my pacemaker down and were shocked to find that my heart isn’t quite as lazy as we thought (still not Usain Bolt). So, after 2 hours in theatre and a river of tears later (mine, not the doctors, although he was very frustrated), the team decided it would be fine for me to keep being paced with one wire by my current pacemaker so long as the battery is good, which it is.

So here we are, same pacemaker, now only pacing me every few beats and not nearly as much as before. Solid proof that not everything goes to plan but to ride the wave anyway.

Pacemaker Blog - Me in bed

Feeling frustrated after a long day.

An exercise test the next day showed my heart is strong and increases its rate surprisingly well – that was until it went into overdrive and entered atrial flutter again – you should have seen the look on my doctor’s face at the prospect of having to take me to theatre again! It fixed itself though and is something I simply have to keep an eye out for. If it happens, again, we’ll deal with it. But for now, I’m sorted.

I filmed some of the ordeal so here you are:

I also wanted to say thank you for all the support I received after my previous post. It means the world to me that people are reading my story and I really appreciate all your kind words  and wishes.

Until next time,

Cecilia-Joy x

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