Friday, March 03, 2006

Living on "the high side of good"...

I had my first follow up appointment since I got my pacemaker on the 15th. It's amazing the amount of change that can happen in 16 days. My prognosis is "excellent - on the high side of good". 16 days ago I only had 33% heart function...amazing. Brilliant side effect - with adequate blood flow my kidneys are working better than ever (kidneys get compromised when you have CHF- not enough blood flow for them to work without meds) - I've lost 20 pounds (all fluids) in 16 days & they cut my diuretics in half (major quality of life improvement) !

I'm going to tell you a few truths they don't share before you get one of these gizmos installed...
  • your arm on the pacemaker side will swell up so your rings won't fit for a few months
  • you'll probably run a fever for a while (weeks)
  • after two weeks, you are allowed to raise your arm on the surgery side (cleared today), but you'll find you don't have full range of motion because they cut through that muscle (bummer, but they assure me it will come back)
  • it will be months before you can sleep on your side
  • it sticks out of the skin and looks like an alien spawn
  • The site will be swollen (to a degree) for months
  • a shock hurts like holy heck...more on that...

I told them I thought it had gone off 6 times since my surgery. They are allowed, by law, to administer a shock to you at 1/100th power with your consent (they can control it remotely-works like a cell phone to the doc sewn into my shoulder). I agreed - how bad could 1/100th be?

Apparently, the deep and, what I thought was unbearable pain, has to do with the fact that they cut through particularly sensitive muscle & nerve and I could have residual pain there forever (not in the brochure). As for the shock - dear Lord, I can't take it. It is my new goal in life to never, ever set this thing off...The pacemaker function can work all it wants, and the defib can run the left side of my heart, but if it ever comes down to a life-saving jolt I don't know what I'll do...I've asked Matt to shoot me in the pacemaker if it starts going off regularly & of course he won't agree to it...what good was that better or worse & obey stuff if he won't shoot you when you ask him to? Oh well, he loves me...


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