Oct. 31, 2011
Just had surgery on Friday to place a permanent pacemaker under my right side collarbone to help with some of my heart issues. Time for taking it easy with limited use of my right arm – 6 weeks!
When I think about my life and who I am, I think about all the fun things I’ve done in my life, the things I love, the people who matter to me and the things I still would like to do. I live my life and get by, by getting excited about the next event that I may have planned, the next big idea for something creative or the next trip I may take to a new place. I’m always setting a time-frame for myself – pushing myself – even when it comes to things that may not be “fun.”
When it comes to being advised for a surgery, I’m not sure if it is better to have months to get myself ready for it or just days. When I have months to prepare I go through all the emotions – I cry, get mad, go through denial and then start to think about how I haven’t yet done everything that I’ve wanted to do. Then I tell myself I’m strong and I go into surgery feeling hopeful. When I only have a few days to think about a surgery I tend to find myself in a state of denial and ended up facing all the other emotions during recovery. It’s hard either way.
I felt I was doing good with my recovery from having my pancreas and spleen removed plus a transplant. Wow, that is a lot for one person to go through. And some days I am still shocked that this is part of my life. I started to feel like maybe I would be able to start working again. Then the next thing I know I’m stuck in bed for pretty much everyday for two weeks. Fatigued, dizzy and weak – I started to realize that it was a good thing I hadn’t gone back to work yet. My history involves having a heart ablation 11 months ago to help treat a fast heart rate. My heart rate used to jump all over the place and I had many days of being unable to walk, stand or even lift my arms. The ablation (burning spots on the heart) was a hard surgery for me. I spent a week recovering in the hospital from it (while having pancreatitis at the same time). I was happy I had it done because it got rid of the chest pain that I had been suffering from for over 10 years. But I was left with a very slow heart rate of 30-50 beats per minute. I thought I would need a pacemaker but I passed my stress test and was told that I was very out of shape and weak from my pancreas but my heart was working just fine. So my heart rate was increasing as it should with activity. My heart rate continued to stay low during my TP/AIT recovery but it wasn’t until 3 weeks ago that I started to get weak and dizzy from it. I was getting a tight feeling in my neck, it felt hard to breathe and I just felt like I needed to rest after walking. My blood pressure had been low too. Low blood pressure and slow heart rate with symptoms is not a fun feeling.
I went to see my cardiologist. I was thinking maybe I just had a cold, maybe that was why I was having a hard time. They did two EKGs on me. The doctor came in saying, “Looks like you need a pacemaker.” First EKG I went from 120 down to 31 beats per minute within seconds. The second one I was in the low thirties. I really wasn’t thinking he would say I would need a pacemaker but I already knew everything about what would be done – after all we talked about the possibilities of a pacemaker before I had my ablation, so I knew what to expect. It was just strange since I thought I had already made it passed the point of needing one. Weird how fast something can change on you.
So eight days later I had my pacemaker put in. Surgery went well. They kept me overnight. Recovery from any surgery is not fun. I always tend to think my heart procedures will be a walk in the park compared to pancreas pain. But when it comes to the heart, it is just as hard, only it is different because it makes me feel tired, winded, my head hurts and I feel like I can’t think as clear. I always feel so drained from it. My incision site aches and I can’t raise my right arm or lift anything over five pounds for 6 weeks. So, this shall be interesting. It’s been a few days and I’m already wishing I could just lift my arm up and stretch it. Typing with one hand…this can take awhile. But I’m happy with my pacemaker. My heart rate has been nice and steady. The doctor said that when he was doing the surgery, my heart kept stopping for 4 seconds at a time. So he said that the pacemaker was very much needed. So far, so good. My blood pressure has still been low. So I’ve still been getting a bit dizzy. Only time will tell why this keeps happening. But my chest feels a lot better.
Right now I have pain and nausea – and I’m thinking about how recovery (from any surgery) is never fun. I always tell myself that it won’t be so bad. Then when I go through it I just think about how much it sucks and I can’t wait for it to fully heal. But when I add it all up, how many procedures and surgeries I’ve been through, it just shocks me. It’s weird to think about it all – it seems like it never ends. If I was told five years ago that I would need to have all of this done, I don’t think I would know how to handle it. But since it happens one day at a time it seems to be something I can wrap my head around. I can set the date in my head and tell myself that it will go well. I tell myself that it’s just another step in my life soon to be something of my past. And from that my life and my story continues.