Thursday, August 24, 2017

Me and My Pacemaker

Happy Thursday, everyone! I am happy to say that my new pacemaker and I are getting along splendidly. Well, except for the itching, and the ache in my armpit, and the inability to shower since I can't get the area wet for a couple more days, and the inability to drive until I see the doctor a week from tomorrow, and the fact that I'm not bursting with energy as I expected. Hmmm, methinks maybe there is a problem with my new relationship. Actually everything is going fine and on track for full recovery. I am now a full fledged, card carrying member of the pacemaker club.

I had the surgery on Monday, August 14, and I have to give kudos to the staff and doctors at Fort Sanders Hospital in Knoxville, TN.  Everyone was so nice and professional. I'm afraid I was my normal goofy self but I was told that I was a very enjoyable patient because I laughed so much. I was under the impression that this was a relatively simple procedure, though serious. I had expected an 1-1/2 to 2 hours in the OR and to not be fully asleep. However, the surgery took closer to 4 hours, and I was fully anesthetized. I have had 3 knee surgery, 2 rotator cuff surgeries and had my gall bladder removed, but I've never been aware of being put to sleep. I've usually been given something to relax me toward sleepiness and only remember the operating room twice.

This time I was fully awake and aware when the nurses took me in. In fact, we had a race to see how fast they could get there. Apparently there is a small rise leading to the OR and they have to move quickly to get up it, especially with this large body of womanhood (or as I told the nurse helping me to get ready, I'm a big mamajama!). It looked like we were going to run straight into the wall ahead of us and I said, in rather a surprised voice, "You're going to hit the wall!" No fear, those girls had good brakes. So I went into the OR giggling about fast drivers and walls. The anesthesiologist wanted to know what was so funny so I told him. I had all of them laughing by the time I was done. Another thing I've never experienced is the mask that is put over your face when you are being put to sleep. Again, I've always been pretty much asleep before that. So when he started toward me with the mask, I asked what he was doing. He explained that it was how I would be put to sleep and then asked if I was bothered by things on my face. I told him I use a C-Pap at night so I had no problem. 3 deep breaths and I was out.

When I woke up, my left arm was in a sling, my throat was sore, and I had a new incision covered with strips of tape, and I was hurting. That was soon dealt with and I went back to sleep for a bit. Next time I was full aware, I was in a room and all my family was gathered round. Well, except for my son, he had waved at me when I was on my way to recovery and told me he was heading home. I waved back and croaked out for him to be careful.  My daughter headed home soon after I got into the room and she knew I was okay. Again the nurses on the floor were wonderful and I never needed for anything. They were right there each time. They kept a careful check on me all night. I got to come home the next day almost exactly 24 hours after I had checked in. Oh yes, the sling was removed Tuesday morning and my throat was much better. I had very little pain and what I had was easily controlled with pain meds.

So 10 days out and I'm doing fine. I'm noticing some pain in my left shoulder but I think it's a combination of things. I have RA also (which might be a factor in my heart block) and the shoulder joint on my left side is very bad, to the point of needing a shoulder replacement. I've been putting it off for almost 9 years now because the orthopedist said I would know when I was ready and he didn't want to rush it. So I think the stress of the surgery, the stress to my body in that area, and the shoulder thing are combining to cause the pain. I've noticed it more so when I've been using my arms. I was told not to raise my arm above my head until I see him again. Most likely, it is, as my daughter said, that I'm protecting my left side subconsciously and stressing the muscles. I don't have any pain at the incision site and haven't had any pain medication for over a week. I guess I am a "tough ole bird".

Take care, my bloggy friends. As always, thank you for stopping by.


Monday, August 7, 2017

What's Happening

Hello, my friends. It's been longer than what I intended between posts. This summer has had its ups and downs and I'm afraid I haven't been coping very well.

For quite a while now, I've been experiencing fatigue each and every day. Some days were better than others but I still tired very easily and couldn't seem to get anything done. It's really hard to do anything when after only a few minutes, I was so tired, all I could think of was sitting in my recliner or taking a nap. Now I love to sleep. I am known for my naps in the middle of the day and for sleeping in most days. I'm a night owl to the nth degree and since I no longer work, I had not been bothered by staying up until 1 or 2 AM and then sleeping until 9 or 10. However, the amount I have been sleeping this summer is out of control.

Over the past month, the fatigue and sleepiness has increased to the point where I have been doing nothing. I have fallen asleep in the recliner more days than I can count and have barely been able to do laundry or load the dishwasher without feeling drained.

Everything came to a head on Friday, July 28. I was reaching for a dish in the cabinet and I got incredibly dizzy, so dizzy that I had to hold onto the counter top to keep from falling. My first thought was that my blood pressure was elevated so I took it to see if that was what was going on. My blood pressure was fine but my heart rate was in the upper 40's.  I've always had a pretty high heart rate in the upper 80's most of the time so this scared me. I kept checking it over the weekend and it ranged from a low of 38 to a high of 70.

Monday morning I called my primary doctor and asked for an appointment. I thought this was something I needed to get checked. It turns out I was right. She did an ECG and blood work and scheduled an appointment with a Cardiac electrophysiologist (or eps) on Wednesday. My ECG showed skipped beats and probable heart block. Thankfully all my blood work was fine. I was concerned that my thyroid was acting up which can cause this issue but that was not the case. As you age, your heart will slow down and sometimes go into heart block so that's my problem. I'm just old.

Anyway, I saw the Cardiac Eps on Wednesday; a very nice man who is new to this area and one who my primary is very impressed with. I was impressed also. He looked over my ECG and blood work and listened to me. I also have a heart murmur which I've probably had most of my life. It became more prevalent after my children were born but has never caused me any problems. To double check that the aortic valve wasn't an issue, I had to have an Echocardiogram before I left the hospital.

I am having a pacemaker implanted on Monday, 8/14. I will have to stay in the hospital overnight just to make sure everything is working correctly. I'm a little nervous about this but I am trying to be positive and think about how much better I will feel once this is in place.

My son, who was 38 on Sunday, 8/6, has had a pacemaker and artificial mitral valve since he was 14. He is almost totally dependent on his pacemaker and just last year, had a larger one implanted and a new mitral valve as the original one was leaking around it quite a bit.  When I called to tell him about the surgery, he told me it would be fine but that I would be SORE. Then he described what has to be done to make the pocket for the pacemaker and then how painful the incision will be. I'm not sure I needed to hear all that but I've always been one who wants to know all the details up front so I'm ready for what happens. He laughingly said, "You just had to be like me, didn't you?"  UH, nope, son, I would pass on that if I could.

So there you have it, my big excuse for not writing a blog post. I've thought several times about sitting down and doing one but I just didn't have the energy or the thought process to put words in order.

I'll be back after the surgery to let you know how things went. Getting old ain't for sissies but I sure wish it would ease up on me a little.   :)

Thank you for being there, my bloggy friends.  I'm getting in a lot of stitching and crocheting time, so maybe I'll have some progress to show you next time. Until then, take care and enjoy life!